The program to the Kennedy Center by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night was filled with music not regularly heard. There were no novelties - the Seventh Symphony of Sibelius, the Second by Charles Ives, and the First Violin Concerto of Paganini - but none of these has been around very often lately, and the symphonies were highly welcome.
Kenneth Schermerhorn has brought the Milwaukee Orchestra up to an admirable level in his decade in that city. Its tone - in individual choirs, frequently among the soloists, and in the full ensemble - was never less than polished. Quite often, both in Sibelius and Ives, it took on a burnished luster.
Schermerhorn is a thorough musician who knows the value of a large but not inappropriate gesture in broad passages. His sense of timing is as keen as his feeling for phrases, even when these differ as greatly as the long-drawn melodies of Sibelius from the homey, handspun tunes of Ives. And for those many hymns and folk melodies that give the Ives its special spirit, Schermerhorn had just the right touch. The vital cello solos were especially beautifully handled.
Eugene Fodor was the soloist in the Paganini. With his flashy technique, he makes little of the few slender musical values of the concerto. He played some of it in tune and a great deal of it out of tune.