Because many people today experience music primarily through recordings they have unrealistic sound expectations when they go to a concert. No live performance can reproduce the kind of presence and clarity that make placement in a recording makes possible. Saturday night's program at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, another in the National Symphony's on going Bach Festival, was a good example of the problem.
As the featured soloist in to of J.S. Bach's harpsichord concertos. Igor Kipnis played with authority and vigor on the Center's newly acquired harpsichord. However, listeners expecting the immediacy of the harpsichord in recordings - including those by Kipnis of these concertos - were apt to be disappointed by the mellow, relatively quiet sound of this instrument, which is a historically accurate reproduction. A better orchestral balance from conductor Tamas Vasary might have lessened the strain on the listener.
Throughout the evening, conductor Vasary's elegant, graceful style worked well in the faster movements, including the dance sections of the opening work, Bach's "Suite No. 4." More intensity could have been brought to the slow sections, particularly in the overture of the "Suite No. 4." Violinist Edith Peinemann and concertmaster Miran Kojian were the well-matched soloists in the concluding work, Bach's "Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins."