Eclectic is the word for the Boston Symphony Orchestra program led by guest conductor Charles Dutoit Thursday night at Symphony Hall. But while the three pieces — Paul Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber,” Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and a suite from Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” ballet — might span hemispheres and centuries, they’re linked by their composers’ affinity for dramatic gestures and bold colors.
“Symphonic Metamorphoses,” which Hindemith wrote in 1943 while teaching at Yale (his own English title was “Symphonic Metamorphosis”), was meant to be a ballet for Léonide Massine, but it wound up as a four-movement mini-symphony. The motoric second movement, called “Turandot: Scherzo,” draws on incidental music Weber composed for Friedrich Schiller’s adaptation of the Carlo Gozzi play. You can, however, hear the entire piece as a kind of “Turandot” ballet: the opening Allegro is an ironic, syncopated march in the vein of Prokofiev or Shostakovich, the Andantino is a moody siciliana with flute mutterings, and the closing March turns into a tarantella. Dutoit’s performance was high-octane and extroverted to a fault, with some congestion in the Scherzo and not enough room for Elizabeth Rowe’s flute solo in the Andantino. He did bring out the Oriental-marketplace flavor of the Allegro, and the entire piece’s bustling energy.