The Philadelphia Orchestra and its inexhaustible conductor, Riccardo Muti, would certainly have seemed entitled to a bit of relaxation at the third and last of their series of concerts in Ambassador Auditorium on Tuesday night.
But relaxation in this connection would be an inappropriate term. The word exists only momentarily for the Philadelphians, and both playing and conducting were at their accustomed peak of intensity throughout the event. And there was still enough vitality on tap to resurrect a forgotten 19th-Century symphony and make it sound close to a masterwork.
This would be Dvorak's Symphony No. 5 in F, composed in 1875. In the revised chronological ordering this actually is the composer's fifth symphony, a numbering previously reserved for the "New World" before historians set matters right. In the old numbering this No. 5 was known as No. 3.
The work is plainly Dvorak, not at his most inspired, but still brimming with irresistible melody, catchy Czech rhythms and endlessly ingenious orchestration. It was the kind of challenge Muti and his musicians seem to delight in, and certainly no one is going to chide them for making the music sound more important than it intrinsically is. It was sufficient pleasure just to take it at its own value.