While the eyes of the country were on the Kennedy Center Opera House last night, the ears of those in the Concert Hall were tuned in to the Korean National Symphony, making its Washington debut.
Under conductor Yun Taik Hong, the orchestra played music by one of Korea's leading composers, Sukhi Kang, following it with the big Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in which Kun Woo Paik was soloist. The evening closed with the Third Symphony of Tachmaninov. Before the printed program began, the national anthems of both countries were played.
At its best, the large orchestra is capable of some attractive sounds. When the strings reached the big tune in the first movement of the symphony, there was a fine glow to the tone.
There were, however, numerous problems both in intonation, which was frequently faulty, and in precision. The Tchaikovsky Concerto was at times a disaster area. Young Paik played without a hint of discipline, often leaving his colleagues far behind, rushing through passages with no suggestion of shape, nuance or phrasing. Much of the time the conductor could od little to preserve a semblance of ensemble, while the frequent solo instruments in the orchestra were hurried beyond belief.
Kang's Dalha For Orchestra, which opened the program, was commissioned for the present U.S. tour. It alternates episodes in which the composer's allegiance to Gyorgy Ligeti and music of chance suddenly disappears in favor of simple tonal pages based on the pentatonic scale. Whether deliberately or by accident, the music made the orchestra sound continually out of tune.