Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The National Symphony was in the capable hands of conductor James DePreist Tuesday night at the Kennedy Center. Formerly the NSO's associate conductor, DePreist is now on his own with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra.
For Tuesday's program, he chose music calculated to keep the orchestra, with its rearranged seating and somewhat richer sound, in the spotlight: the Funeral Music for the last scene of "Hamlet" by Berlioz, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra and the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, with soloist Claudio Arrau.
The Berlioz is a fine piece as long as you keep its program firmly in mind. It is a dirge worthy of accompanying the tragic Dane's body off the scene, and the offstage choral interpolations, well handled last night by the Oratorio Society of Washington heighten the pathos. But, on its own as pure music, it is pretty turgid.
The orchestra, as an ensemble and as corporate soloists in the Bartok, sounded in fine form. The brasses, of whom much is demanded in this piece, rose well to their many occasions, but seemed to have little in reserve at the climaxes.
The Brahms, which concluded the evening, was performed with more a debonair than a passionate touch.