The forces of one Giulio GattiCasazza had not yet even begun to whisper about bringing to life any of the Russian masterpieces festoooning their prospectus when, some days ago, a brave enterprise, rather amibtiously called “The Art of Musical Russia, Inc.,” showed its face in what had until then been merely the deserted temple of Earl Carroll.
This over-ambitious title shrods no dawdling, easily-dismissable opera company, I am happy to report. At the Casino Theater, nee the Earl Carroll, no ever since the opening “Boris Godounoff” of Thursday, February 1. Zestful and as slavic as anyone could wish.
Handicapped by inadequate rehearsals, woeful “props” and unfortunate decors, the company has caaried on admirably. Its comductor, Eugene Plotnikoff directed the American premiere last Summer of Tschaikowsky’s swansong, the romantic “Iolanthe,” up at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club. It was then I first saw him and found a serious, sympathetic musian. Already the Casino company has presented to a city which obviously has missed its Rimky-Korsakoff and Moussorgsky, the former’s “Coq d’Or” and the latter’s “Boris” and “Khovanschina;” Tcherepin’s “OI OI,” and the aforementioned “Io lanthe.” Its chorus is a Kibalchich outfit; its costujmes superb. It highly deserves to prosper.
The Respighi with whom I have often felt myself at vaiance has turned out a masterly orchestration of the stately Bach C minor Passacaglia and Fugue, which Toscanini couducted last Sunday at the regular Philharmonic-Symphony concert. Respighi, with his acute-albeit Latin-theatre sense, wrote a mess of f’s (stet) at teh climax of this glorious fugue, and, Respighian as ever, fugue, and, Respighian as ever, threw in an organ for good measure. It is fitting that the roof be dislodged and the floors quake at the climax of a Bach fugue. I thank him.
I am grateful, too, to the youthful Issay Dobrowen, who, conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra the other night, atoned for th epedestrianism of his account of Cherubini’s “Anacreon” overture and Mozart’s divine 39th Symphony (E flat) by furnishing us with understanding performances of Roussel’s F major suite (Op.32) to which Lawrence Gilman refers as “old wine in new bottles” but heady, sparkling wine, its bubbles filled with the air of today and the day before; and of Stravinsky’s ever – astonishing “Oiseau de Feu” suite. It is always hard to belive that Stravinsky wrote it twenty-four years ago, when such large chunks of the cilvilizedd world were wallowing in Victorian hangovers.
Sigrid Onegin, fifth performer in the Town Hall Endowment Sezies, always the consummate vocal artist, still was able involuntarily to amuse us by letting a viola obbligato take her far off key in a Brahms piece. Mitya Stillman was responsible for the obbligato.
Serge Koussevitzky helped make it a Stravinsky week, with a Boston Symphony performance of the “Appollon Musagelt” bllet suite. Schoenberg’s radiant “Verklaerte Nacht” and Roy Harris’s new “Symphony: 1933,” in which the young American has something to say, and pleasantly enough, says it, were features of this last visit of the New England band.
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