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Music Reviews : Svetlanov Leads Moscow State Symphony in Pasadena

The Moscow State Symphony transfered its activities to Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Thursday night for the second of its two Southern California appearances. This concert was directed by Yevgeny Svetlanov, who is listed as chief conductor (in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, the conductor had been Mark Ermler).

Svetlanov exudes authority. He dispenses with a baton and although he has a score on the stand in front of him and flips pages occasionally, he obviously does not rely upon such a prop. His gestures are economical and restrained; a small amount of motion can produce large results. Only at extreme climaxes does he invoke broad and sweeping gestures.

The orchestra itself is so minutely drilled and rehearsed that it often seems not to rely at all upon the conductor. He in turn appears to have such confidence in his 110 musicians that at times he gives them their head and allows them to proceed under their own power. The orchestra requires little urging to whisper in the clearest and softest of tones, nor yet any whipping to produce currents of sound. It is virtually a perfect musical instrument, both artistically and mechanically.

The program--the same one as in Orange County, which was reviewed in Friday’s Times--consisted of the prelude to Mussorgsky’s “Khovanshchina,” Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto played by Andrei Korsakov, and Rachmaninoff’s youthful and immature Symphony No. 1.

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