Strauss might have taken it as perfectly reasonable that his "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks" and music from his "Der Rosenkavalier" should appear on the sort of program of favourites that the New York Philharmonic played at the Kennedy Center Thursday night.
But Beethoven might have had a harder time relegating his "Leonore" Overture No. 3 and Violin Concerto to the realm of "Summer Favourite" music. After all, he sweated blood over the overture, and the concerto is not exactly one of the flashiest in the repertoire. Nevertheless, history has decreed that these too should belong on such a program, and conductor Erich Leinsdorf conducted it all with sprightly good spirits.
Pinchas Zuckerman was the soloist in the Beethoven concerto, and as his playing inclined more to suaveness than to sprightliness, the performance had some moments of tension. These were particularly evident in the violin's opening statement and in the last moment, but the beauty of Zukerman's tone and the subtle intensity of his playing made it a memorable performance nontheless.
The Philharmonic has a brilliant sound they can muster for occasion like the Strauss, and a micely clean [if not always ideally balanced] sound that is well suited to music of Beethoven. But most impressive, in this concert were the cellos and basses which sang throughout with what seemed to be effortless sweetness. Perhaps they have come thorugh their struggles with the Lincoln Center acoustics a stronger and more forceful section.