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syMPHoNY HALL sixteenth rehearsal Boston Symphony orchestra, afternoon of March 5, Pablo Casals, soloist. The pro gram; Tschaikowsky, “Romeo and Juliet" overture fantasia after Shakespeare; Converse, “Ormazd,” symphonic poem; Lalo, concerto for violoncello and orchestra; Mozart, symphony in G minor (K. 550). Now and again Dr. Muck likes to put his audience through a course of mental gymnastics, and if he can do it withou n out till afterward, so much reater is hi asure. His sense of humor exte evond the fun to be got from the residing of a phrase: it tinges also his programs. He likes
to do t nexpected. H is a 'cello soloist ng, he may hav Qhool, who can be depe upon to soup
the feelings of his hearers; very well, I shall, by way of contrast give them matter for thoughtful digestion, plain food full of nutrition. This time, however, the soloist of the day had his own little joke with the conductor. He elected to play his concerto with no least hint of tweaking the heartstrings of his hear|ers but with scrupulous attention to technical detail and in a matter-of-fact, mood. So the appeal of the concerts this week is wholly intellectual rather than emotional. In spite of this, however, the audience at the rehearsal yesterday afternoon used up nearly all its intermission applauding Mr. Casals. Until the first bell sounded the handclapping was kept up and the famous 'cellist was forced again and again to appear and bow his acknowledgments. The fervor of the audience started with the close of the first number, the “Romeo and Juliet” overture. Dr. Muck was obliged to call up his men to receive the plaudits with him. The approval manifested after the “Ormazd' must surely have gladdened the heart of the composer, who was in the audience. Even after the symphony, which was placed last, the crowd seemed loath to leave its feast. So, though Dr. Muck had chosen to demand the exercise of understanding, and Mr. Casals elected to make his bid for favor rather to the intelligence than the emotions of his hearers, this program will probably be regarded as one of the most successful from many standpoints of the entire season. It was desire to hear Mr. Casals that caused a line as long as awaits a Kreisler performance to be formed before the doors were open. This desire was justified, for doubtless many in the audience had no idea that a man could draw such perfect tones from a violoncello. It is hard to keep from a panegyric when speaking of Mr. Casals' playing. Superlatives are in order. Yet because true art is simple and rises above the human complications that would hamper it, Mr. Casals' playing takes on a directness that is the apotheosis of ingenuous facility. His technique is so excellent that it is altogether unobtrusive. He pays little attention to his mechanical skill and to himself. The music is his sole concern. He forgets that he is a soloist and becomes for the time being
one of the orchestra with which he is playing. As closely as any member he keeps his eye on the conductor. His business is to set forth the musical ideas of the composer with as little coloring or personal bias as possible. And the inevitable appeal of art is sensed through his playing. - The Lalo concerto is perhaps the most fruitful of the better known violoncello concertos, The limitations and characteristics of the instrument have due allowances made for them. The three movements offer agreeable contrast in rhythm, color and tempo. By reason of Mr. Casals' proficiency it is possible to grasp the musical value of rapid passage work as compared with slower and easier bits. His mastery of technical difficulties is such that the involved expression is handled for its musical idea as well as is the simpler. Mr. Converse's “Ormazd' was well receive ..", "my","." played in Boston, Feb. 10, 1912. It is a piece that grows on one with repetition. Or is it that we have grown in our apprehension of the musical ideas which Mr. Converse embodied in his symphonic poem . Some of the lapses from established tonality do not disturb us now as they did then. We understand better the use of orchestral color. Its employment as a means of embellishment rather than the configuration of the olden style does not now affect us unpleasantly. “Ormazd." is program music, but with this differ. ence,—it is descriptive not of the dramatic action of concrete beings but the interaction of abstract forces, and thus a more imaginative quality is brought into the music. The ultimate triumph of good over evil has been set forth many times and in many ways. Mr. Converse has programmed the Persian mythology rather than the Norse or the Greek or the Sanskrit. Only the program book informs us of this, though. Mr. Converse has intimate knowledg of the modern orchestra and his resources of expression are excellently handled. He uses admirable restraint in his climaxes and his tone quality built up in cumulative mass never topples or loses its chief characteristics in mere noise. Dr. Muck's reading of the Mozart G. minor symphony that came last on the program pleased him and pleased the audience. With a less capable double bass section some of the Mozartian runs would sound muddy. The conductor set a merry pace and the men followed closely. Such is their technical skill that a clean-cut, carefully phrased result is forthcoming no matter how swiftly the notes run.