Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Aaron Copland, who celebrated his 78th birthday last week, put together a fascinating program for his visit this week with the National Symphony in Kennedy Center. He will repeat it tomorrow night.
For his opener, Copland turned back almost 300 years to three of the astounding fantasies by Henry Purcell. Those who might object to what they call "dissonances" today may have wondered about the constant warring between E and E flat, or F and F sharp as they sounded simultaneously Tuesday in the C Minor Fantasy. There were also the wonders of the fantasy "on one note," with its constant middle C.
Moving up a century, Copland led a vigorous account of the C Minor Symphony, No. 95, by Haydn. The music is loaded with power and invention, with John Martin taking full advantage of the surprising cello solo in the menuet. The orchestra's playing, which had a rough moment or two in the Purcell, steadily improved throughout the Haydn.
Copland chose two of his own works, ending each half of the evening with one. First came the crossed rhythms of the Latin-American Sketches. At the end of the evening, the composer-conductor placed "Connotations," which he wrote for the 1962 opening of Lincoln Center in New York. It no longer sounds as forbidding as it did at first, but it does not yet endear itself for all its handsome working out.
In between his own works, Copland placed Darius Milhaud's Concertino for violin and chamber orchestra, and a warm-hearted, glowing account of Charles Ives' Decoration Day, which sounded fine just before Thanksgiving. Miran Kojian played Milhaud's smartly styled concertino with just the right bouncy ease.