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Published: Friday, 11/7/2003

Sounds of Vienna in Toledo

BY STEVEN CORNELIUS
BLADE MUSIC CRITIC
Vladimir Fedoseyev conducts the Vienna Symphony. Vladimir Fedoseyev conducts the Vienna Symphony.
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Russian conductor Vladimir Fedoseyev brings the buoyant sounds of Vienna to the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle on Sunday night when the Vienna Symphony performs music of Mozart, Schubert, and Johann Strauss, Jr.

“It has been a special experience to show American audiences how this music is played in Vienna,” the 71-year-old conductor said Monday from New York City.

“The Viennese orchestral sound is unique. String playing is light and touching. The woodwind and brass schools are also distinctive,” he said.

Fedoseyev has been the orchestra s principal conductor since 1997, but has been working with the ensemble for over a decade. He has also been music director of the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Radio Moscow since 1974.

The two orchestras could hardly be more different. The Viennese sound is characterized by its transparency, Moscow s by its density and richness.

Fedoseyev said part of his task is to keep each ensemble true to its roots while exploring the many shared traditions.

It s often forgotten, he noted, that Strauss spent years in St. Petersburg. There he was a great favorite as a composer and conductor, and an important early supporter of Tchaikovsky.

Don t take Strauss too lightly, warned Fedoseyev.

“Strauss music is like folk music. This makes it very difficult to play, especially by those from the outside. He is such a special composer.”

The Vienna Symphony was founded in 1900 amidst the flush confidence that pervaded millennium Europe. Its mission was to do it all: present cutting edge new music against a backdrop of light classics.

That s an odd mix by the lights of today s rigidly segmented musical culture, but the scheme was altogether workable 100 years ago. The orchestra gave premieres of thorny works by Schoenberg and others while offering side-by-side the music of Vienna s waltz king.

The orchestra struggled during World War II, but with peace, was quickly back on its feet. Today, its mission updated but essentially unchanged, the orchestra performs about 150 concerts annually in Vienna and around the globe. A defining initiative is the Vienna Symphony Orchestra Project, which delivers classical works in pops arrangements.

Sunday s concert sticks with the original arrangements, but will be plenty digestible. Slated is Schubert s Symphony No. 3, Mozart s Violin Concerto No. 3, and Strauss.

Violinist Nikolaj Znaider joins conductor Vladimir Fedoseyev and the Vienna Symphony in music of Schubert, Mozart, and Strauss at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Seating is extremely limited. Tickets range from $20 to $45. Information: 419-246-8000.



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