Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which performed here Sunday at the Kennedy Center, must live with the fact that it is not in the league of the country's Big Five orchestras technically.. But it may derive some satisfaction from the fact that its performance here was notably more stimulating than anything one has heard lately from its gold-plated peers.
There were two essential elements, the first was half a program of Carl Neilsen, the Danish composer whose work begun surfacing about the same time as Mahler's lesser-known works, but didn't get a similar hold on the public.
Compared with Mahler, there is an almost manic affirmativeness on works like the "Maskarade" overture or the Fifth symphony. But it's not far from Prokofiev, and the impact can be considerable, as in Sunday's performance under Sixten Ehrling.
The Neilsen alone would have been enough for an exciting evening. But there was also the Brahams First piano concerto, with Alexis Weissenberg as the soloist. It was a little like the comparison with the Big Five. Maybe Weissenberg doesn't quite have the substance of this herculean work under control quite so much as, say, Rudolf Serkin. But, for sheer digital skill, he's not to be surpassed. The performance was very fine.