Shortly before concert time last night, many of us heard with optimistic ears that a tentative settlement had been reached - although the full orchestra must vote yea or nay on the association's offer tomorrow no later than midnight. Is it silly to credit Beethoven's symphony of turmoil-turned- to-brotherhood with having a subliminal conciliatory effect on both parties? If so, it is certainly not begging the issue to call the Ninth an appropriate piece with which to conclude any labor-management settlement.
No telling, what will be voted tomorrow night. But at least we know one triumphant closure is certain during the festival's final performance of the Beethoven tonight.
The orchestra and its new leader are to be commended for a Ninth with might - and considerable mind - to it. There remain things to be worked out in this bold interpretation, particularly instrumental balances (clarinet, horns, pizzicato strings in the slow movement). But Maestro Sawallisch has scrubbed clean the encrustations of former interpretations, and his ideas, thus far, are showing the finest effects on the strings.
The strength of this Ninth show up in its silences as much as its declarative might. From the very first fermata, or pause, before the horns enter in the opening movement, Sawallisch show us just how urgently Beethoven wishes us to understand that the world he will build, destroy and rebuild, has been soldered from small almost insignificant intervals, ever-repeating ideas, tones.
Jolting silences give this music its structure as well as its mystery. When Sawallisch steered his players into silence before the finale's great circus effects, it arrived like a thunder clap. The bouncing brilliances of this music surround a tenor solo, in which guest Jerry Hadley made a fine impression. Paul Plishka took the tremendous bass solos with a gravelly urgency, soprano Luana DeVol and mezzo-soprano Janis Taylor completed a vocally uneven quartet. But the chorus is the real soloist in Beethoven's Ninth and the Philadelphia Singers Chorale rang out with a memorable spirit and drive.
THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA
Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (Choral) and Overture to Fidelio, with the Philadelphia Singers Chorale, and Paul Plishka, Jerry Hadley, and Conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch last night at the Academy of Music.
Additional performance at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets. Tonight at 8. Tickets are $10 to $70. Information: 893-1999.