The Symphony Orchestra of Brazil, on its first U.S. tour, played in the Kennedy Center Sunday afternoon, offering first of all some music from Brazil.

It would be hard to find a stronger contrast in styles than that which exists between the prelude of the 4th Bachianas Brasileiras by the late great man of Brazilian music, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and "Inteiracoes Assintoticas" by Caludio Santoro, who is not yet 60.

The Villa-Lobos prelude, written originally for piano, was played in its string orchestra version. It is Villa-Lobos in his best Bach manner, which is very fine indeed. The string playing was superb in tone and expert in technique.

It is a tribute to Isaac Karabtchevsky, the orchestra's conductor, that the playing was as expert in the difficult idiom of Santoro as in the Villa-Lobos. Santoro wrote his "Asymptotic Interactions" in 1969 in Paris. My dictionary says "asymptotic" refers to "a line that is the limiting position of a tangent to a curve as its point of contact recedes indefinitely along an infinite branch of the curve." I thought you would want to know.

Santoro's music, a vital example of a style that has become a dead end in the decade since it was written, uses the full percussion battery in random explosion shots, equally random choices in tempos and duration of notes.There are glissandos in the strings and at the end, from the wind choirs, a series of what sounds like lonesome train whistles signaling the disappearance of music that has no destination.

Before the Fifth Symphony of Tchaikovsky, pianist Nelson Freire was soloist in the Third Concerto of Prokoflev.