Together with No. 24 - significantly, the only other in a minor key - the Mozart piano concerto that responds best to the romantic temperament is No. 20 in D minor, the K. 466.

Certainly it is the most Beethovenian of the lot, and it is no accident that he left us his own cadenzas for it, as did Brahms. If that suggests one great pianist paying tribute to another, Friday worked a third into that equation by way of Rudolf Firkusny's performance with the Utah Symphony.

For here were not only the Beethoven cadenzas, but that same fusion of the classic and romantic that must have been present in the latter's performances, and possibly Mozart's, when the piece was new.

It was, in short, an interpretation of grace, fluency and natural expressivity, coupled with a technical command astonishing in a pianist in his 79th year. Yet nothing was ever forced, whether in the nocturnal shadings of the second movement, where in the central section in particular the music's brooding substratum came to the fore, or the virtuosic tension-purging of the concluding Rondo, served up with plenty of life and rhythmic point.

It was also enough to prompt an encore, in this instance one of the Smetana Czech Dances ("The Bear"), a nod at the pianist's homeland.

For the rest of this Symphony Hall program, however, the orchestra took us to France, for the Overture to Berlioz's "Beatrice et Benedict" (based on Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing"), and Hungary, for Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra.

Both were well performed, although I wouldn't have minded a little more of the disciplined thrust music director Joseph Silverstein brought to the Mozart concerto in the Berlioz, which at times seemed a trifle heavy.

Likewise his Bartok, which like the Mozart boasted careful attention to textures and dynamics but not always a comparable vigor.

That meant you could hear most everything, from the unsettling woodwind interjections in the misterioso introduction to the painstakingly balanced voicings in the second movement - the famous "game of pairs" - here at least begun at the right tempo. But it was not until the fourth movement, with its jazzy

send-up of Shostakovich and/or Lehar, that this interpretation really came into its own, which happily carried over into the controlled verve of the Finale.

A new question for the concert-etiquette books, however: Do the same rules apply when a conductor throws his baton into the audience as when a batter pops a pitch into the bleachers in baseball - i.e., do you get to keep it?

Hey, why not? The way I see it, it's like any other part of the great-music experience - you take all you can get. But don't be surprised if, like any other addictive substance, it leaves you wanting more. After all, that's why encores were created. And concert pairings that repeat the same program on Saturday.