Valery Gergiev, Music Director of the Mariinsky Orchestra, was in fine form at the Kennedy Center on October 14, 2013, conducting the original versions of three Stravinsky ballets composed a century ago–The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring. The musical excerpts that accompanied the National Gallery of Art’s exhibit, Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, were now presented in their full-length, vivid sonic glory. Gergiev needed neither podium, baton nor elaborate arm-waving–just modest flicks of his wrists to bring out the best in Mariinsky’s superbly trained instrumentalists. Though I had listened to recordings of this music since high school, hearing these works played so passionately by the great St. Petersburg orchestra was a throbbing, exhilarating experience. My favorite of the three is still Petrushka, likely due to the dazzling piano part. The capacity audience included many Russian ex-pats who ardently expressed their enthusiasm. Jacqua and I and a couple of other piano teachers we saw loved it. The Washington Post published this review. The New York Times review of the same program at Carnegie Hall four days earlier is here.