Sorelentess is the chilling pressure of the portraits of Lucian Freud, now at the Hirshhorn, that they stop you where you stand. You feel it in the drag of flesh, in the viscosity of blood, in the very weight of memory. They have nothing of that jitter, the electronic flicker, at the surface of most recent works of art. They are solid to the core. And disconcertingly alive.


Mstislav Rostropovich will conduct his first Washington performances of the Berlioz "Symphonie fantastique" this week with the National Symphony Orchestra. The program will also include Mozart's 39th Symphony and Toch's "Pinocchio, a Merry Overture."

The Mantovani Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Alwyn, will perform a program of light classics by Strauss, Romberg, Lehar and Kalman Friday night at the Kennedy Center. On the same evening, the Smithsonian Resident Associates will present a concert of vocal music by Sigmund Romberg in Baird Auditorium.

The Friday Morning Music Club will give two concerts this week: tomorrow night at the Friendship Heights Community Center and Friday morning at Strathmore Hall.

Performers from the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music will present a tribute to Nadia Boulanger this afternoon in the Terrace Theater. This evening's attraction in the Terrace will be the Kronos Quartet; tomorrow evening, baritone Ben Holt.

La Maison Francaise, the fine little auditorium at the French Embassy on Reservoir Road, will open its season Tuesday and Wednesday evenings with operatic highlights performed by the National Lyric Opera Company.

Also worth noting: the Washington Singers, conducted by Paul Hill, Wednesday night at the OAS; the Hans Roelofsen and Rudolf Sluw, a double bass duo, today at the Phillips Collection;the Manchester String Quartet, Friday night at the Holton-Arms School.


American Ballet Theatre's Patrick Bissell is a guest artist, partnering ballerina Michelle Lucci, in this afternoon's performance by Baltimore's Harbor City Ballet at Goucher College.

At Dance Place tonight, the Chuck Davis African-American Dance Ensemble performs as part of its 11-day National Performance Network residency here.

The fall season at the Kennedy Center is launched Wednesday evening with the return of the Maria Benitez Estampa Flamenca troupe for a four-night engagement at the Terrace Theater.

Also Wednesday night, Baltimore's enterprising Theatre Project launches a new series, "Dancesampler '87," showcasing five Baltimore-based troupes for seven Wednesday-Sunday performances each. The first company, Kathy Wildberger's PATH Dance Company, will present works by Wildberger, Gary Masters, Bebe Miller and, in a special tribute to noted modern dance exponent Jeff Duncan, a Duncan solo to be danced by Wildberger from the 1980 work, "Square: The Heptasoph Pieces," originally choreographed for the Theatre Project's performance space (sadly, PATH, active in Baltimore since 1979, is closing up shop after these performances for lack of funds). Another event of unusual note in Baltimore this week will be the appearances Thursday through Saturday evening, in three different programs, of the Moscow Ballet, making its first visit to the United States under the direction of celebrated Bolshoi Ballet principal Vyacheslav Gordeyev. Other dancers of the troupe are members of the Bolshoi, the Kirov and Stanislavsky ballet companies. The troupe's 21-city tour kicks off at Baltimore's Lyric Opera House and is slated to wind up Nov. 27 and 28 in Trenton, N.J.

The duo team of Cynthia Thompson and Kate Trammell, members of the dance faculty at James Madison University, bring a retrospective of their work, under the banner Thompson & Trammell, to Mount Vernon College Friday and Saturday evenings, launching another annual dance series in the Florence Hollis Hand Chapel.


In "The Pick-Up Artist," when Jack Jericho (Robert Downey) opens his mouth, the darnest things pop out. And Jack is always opening his mouth. Walking down the street, Jack approaches every sexy woman he meets. And he's in Manhattan -- girl watcher's heaven -- and so there are sexy women everywhere, of all descriptions, shapes and sizes. The movie, which was written and directed by James Toback and stars Molly Ringwald, is unfailingly gregarious, and it's something of an oddity, too -- a comedy of manners about sexual obsessiveness. Both Downey and Ringwald give fresh, appealing performances. And Ringwald has a ripeness and authority that she's never shown before; for the first time she's womanly. The most remarkable thing about the film is that Toback, who directed excessive and driven movies like "Fingers" and "Exposed," was able to take the same obsessions that erupted into violence and translate them into comedy. He's turned his demons into entertainment.


U2 at RFK Stadium, today; but unless you've got a ticket, not you too. However, opener Little Steven Van Zandt is also at the Bayou on Wednesday.

Nashville couples we like: singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell, who's at the Birchmere tonight, and the tempestuous singer Rosanne Cash, at the Warner on Friday.

It's a Sing-Out Against Contra Funding: Peter, Paul and Mary, Judy Collins, Bruce Cockburn and the Washington Squares join voices at Constitution Hall on Wednesday.

Steel drums and jazz are not an obvious combination, but Andy Narrell, who's at Blues Alley on Wednesday, suggests they should be.

Blues in the night: Albert King and Koko Taylor, at Blues Alley Thursday through Sunday; and Son Seals, at the 9:30 on Friday.


Joel Grey heads up the revival of "Cabaret" (Kennedy Center Opera House), as a sleazy emcee presiding over a raffish Berlin nightspot while someone called Hitler is taking over Germany. A big Broadway hit in 1966, the show has dated in places. But it still retains much of its power to thrill and astonish. With time, Grey's performance has become pure malevolence. As he turns a high kick into a Nazi goose step, he reminds you once again what a brilliantly savage departure "Cabaret" represented for the American musical theater.