The Concert Hall was packed for the finale of the Mostly Mozart Festival Saturday night at Kennedy Center. It was mostly Beethoven, actually, with more time also given to Vivaldi and Haydn that to the festival's namesake. And it was mostly rather good.
Beethoven's Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin, Cello and Orchestra, Op. 56, was played by Joseph Kalichstein, Jaime Laredo, Sharon Robinson and the Festival Orchestra, respectively. In this performance it gave the feeling of a chamber work straining for scope. Robinson's cello was lovely in the middle largo, exposed and intense in its rare expansive moments. Later in the movement there were tempo disagreements with conductor Alexander Schneider. But by the end, the delicate approach to this formal work became convincing, and its warmth came through.
By far the biggest ovation of the evening went to Marya Martin, the featured soloist in Vivaldi's Concerto for Piccolo and Strings in C Major. Hers was a carefree tour de force, wondrously hiding the difficulties of the concerto while facing most of them squarely. Her silvery tone was not always polished, but the naive melancholy of her line was irresistible, and the nervous chirping of the opening only highlighted the victorious allegro molto at the end.
The program opened with Haydn's Symphony No. 68 in B-Flat Major. A very correct first movement was followed by an adagio and minuet that were taken at the same gallop, although there was delicacy in the strings and some wonderful dynamic contrasts whenever required.
From Mozart came something small but not minor, a set of Six German Dances, K. 571. It is easy to see from where the waltz would come when hearing these, and it was fun to listen to the Mostly Mozart Orchestra enjoy them so much. So did everyone else.