In the spirit of the season, the Beethoven Society Orchestra presented a family concert that featured an innovative presentation of "Peter and the Wolf" last night at the Capital Hilton Presidential Ballroom. The Sergei Prokofiev work is as unpretentious as they come, with simple instrumental motives calculated to teach children the basics of the orchestral music, and the orchestra easily and competently met its few technical demands. But one wonders if the novel introduction of dancers defeated Prokofiev's purpose in composing this work.

Although the dancers' inventive and colorful costumes successfully attracted the children's attention, the choreography -- if it can be called such -- underused the talents of the American Contemporary Ballet members who danced the fairy tale's character roles. Prokofiev's music would have been better served without the dancers, especially since the music and narrator Bob Levey's commanding voice could have held the family audience's interest and imagination on their own.

Six shorter works comprised the second half of the concert, including an entertaining performance of Leroy Anderson's "The Typewriter," which featured percussionist Kenneth Harbison on keyboards -- a typewriter's, that is -- and an engaging rendition of Emile Waldteufel's popular "The Skater's Waltz," which featured string sections finely played in the romantic tradition.