If flutist James Galway were paid by the note, the Khachaturian Concerto he has arranged for flute would make him a wealthy man indeed. It is one long paean to the joys of motion, color and agility and is tailor-made to Galway's arsenal of virtuosity and charm. As the centerpiece of the National Symphony Orchestra's program at the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall last night, it set a tone of brilliance and display for the whole evening. With all its color, the orchestration is designed to allow the solo flute to be heard, easily, and Galway, with the apparent effortlessness that is his hallmark, drew out his lines with bold clarity.
The NSO's first-chair flutist, Toshiko Kohno, joined Galway for a well-crafted, if somewhat premeditated-sounding reading of the Cimarosa Concerto for Two Flutes, a bumptious and stylized work of some charm but not a great deal of substance. The performance had all the necessary bells and whistles of the 18th-century idiom but few moments of real lightheartedness.
In keeping with this year's ongoing celebration of the NSO's 60th season, the concert opened with the Weber Overture to "Der Freischuetz" and closed with the Tchaikovsky "March Slave," the pieces that opened and closed the first concert given by the NSO under Hans Kindler's direction on Nov. 2, 1931, and included Kindler's arrangement of the Frescobaldi "Toccata," which may or may not be by Frescobaldi -- a fact that has never diminished its popularity.
The orchestra, especially the strings, was in excellent form.