All of Mozart's masterpieces for piano and orchestra are difficult to play, but his final work in the genre, Concerto No. 27 in B-flat (K. 595), belongs in a special category. This is a piece that -- if it's 5l not to become boring or to suggest Mozartean self-parody -- must take the listener to ethereal heights.
Joseph Kalichstein's performance of K. 595 with the Baltimore Symphony and conductor Jaime Laredo Thursday night in Meyerhoff Hall, in the first of the orchestra's Summerfest concerts, was good enough occasionally to suggest that one was listening to major Mozart. It was not good enough, however, to transport a listener to the higher realm the composer intended for him. This was a reliable performance, full of the best intentions. But the pianist's sometimes labored playing and his often insufficiently light touch -- many of the concerto's glistening runs, particularly in the finale, were smudged -- left one feeling that the place of some of the composer's finest Dresden China had been stolen by an inexpensively made imitation. The accompaniment by Laredo and the orchestra was mostly superb.
And all of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major (K. 216), in which Laredo doubled as soloist and conductor, was superb. Despite his busy activity as a conductor and chamber-music player, Laredo remains one of our finest violinists. His lemon-and-honey tone is beautiful at all dynamic levels and his musicianship is both lyrical and incisive. The violinist's performance supplied proof for the theory that almost all of Mozart's music could be set for the human voice. The first and third movements struck quasi-operatic, dramatic sparks, and the slow middle movement was filled with the intense sense of yearning one expects to hear from a great Mozart soprano.
In Mozart's Symphony No. 29 in A major (K. 201), Laredo and the BSO gave another fine performance. The first movement exhibited unflagging energy, a lovely -- but not inflated -- sound and a sense of majesty that co-existed with the music's angst, and the final movement had many of the same excellences. If the middle movements were not as compelling, that was neither the conductor's nor the orchestra's fault. The A major symphony is an example of a brilliantly gifted 18-year-old composer showing his immaturity in failing to realize the full potential of his remarkable materials.
The second Summerfest concert -- another all-Mozart program -- takes place Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with a preconcert performance, free to ticket holders, of the Sonata for Two Pianos in D major (K. 448) at 6:30 p.m.