This week at the Kennedy Center Mstislav Rostropovich is conducting the National Symphony in all the music the orchestra will play during its European tour next month. The concerts are being played in memory of the late Marion Tully Dimick, one of the NSO's most generous friends and benefactors.
Last night the music was worthy of Mrs. Dimick. It began with Samuel Barber's overture, "The School For Scandal." It is good news that Rostropovich is taking two of the best American overtures to Europe. The second overture, "Comes Autumn Time," by Leo Sowerby will be played at tomorrow evening's concert.
The fireworks in the evening came in the second half of the concert with a performance of Stravinsky's "Petrouchka" that picked up steam as it went along. Rarely have the music's Russian roots been so clearly and excitingly exposed. The solo piano of Lambert Orkis, Adel Sanchez's trumpet, and Toshiko Kohno's flute were among the special glories of the performance in which the entire trumpet and percussion sections also contributed notably.
This is a "Petrouchka" worthy of traveling to Europe's great concert halls. The Third Symphony of Schubert followed the Barber overture. It is a lovely work, seldom played. It is full of charm and delicacy often with bucolic touches reminding us that Schubert was only 18 when he wrote it. Rostropovich kept the proportions of the symphony beautifully in hand, its dynamic dimensions held to the proper size for the gentle though dazzling music. The symphony is not a particularly strong work, but it may well win friends for the National Symphony abroad.