Richard Bales, founder and longtime conductor of the National Gallery Orchestra, used to get away with performing Bruckner’s huge symphonies in the gallery’s Garden Courts because the reverberations made his small orchestra sound like a big one and because he really understood those particular acoustics. Thierry Fischer, who brought his Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo there on Sunday for the last concert of the gallery’s month-long Cherry Blossom Music Festival, doesn’t have the benefit of that experience and it showed.
The program was an odd one for an undertaking that celebrates Japanese-American friendship — Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” and his E-flat Major Piano Concerto No. 22 and the Beethoven 3rd Symphony, the “Eroica,” more a celebration of the orchestra than of either country. With a chamber-sized cohort of strings and, of necessity, the full complement of winds — which Fischer centered in the back (Bales used to place his winds off in the boonies, far to each side) — and with the hall’s acoustical distortions, balances were distinctly odd.