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Published: Friday, 9/17/2004

Symphony to open season at Peristyle

William Wolfram William Wolfram
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Exuberant works by Richard Strauss are contrasted against cerebral fare by Mozart tonight and tomorrow when Toledo Symphony opens its 2004-05 season at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle.

The program opens with Strauss' dazzling symphonic poem "Don Juan" and closes with Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony. Sandwiched in between, guest pianist William Wolfram performs Mozart's Concerto No. 14 in E-flat followed by Strauss' rarely heard "Burleske." Stefan Sanderling conducts.

It's a busy weekend for Wolfram, who also joins first chair string players in a Sunday afternoon performance of Shostakovich's Piano Quintet in G Minor.

Wolfram, 49, returns to Toledo after performing the same Mozart concerto last February with the orchestra at Lourdes College.

Known for his bracing technique and power, Wolfram will be in his element with the colorful and technically demanding, but rarely programmed, "Burleske."

"It's a fringe piece, definitely outside the mainstream, but I can't really tell you why. Maybe it's because it's so difficult, maybe it's just that popularity goes in cycles," said Wolfram earlier this week.

Wolfram's career received a boost early on after he placed well in a series of competitions in the United States and Moscow. Yet, while such events can kick-start careers, as measures of artistry the pianist does not give them much weight. "Competitions offer musicians a chance to be heard, to gain in professionalism, but they are not great arbiters of taste, not the oracle speaking. There is often no connection between how well you play and the results," he said.

The Sunday concert is the first of a three-program series designed to stimulate musicians and audiences alike. Toledo Symphony musicians benefit from the opportunity to work more closely with internationally known artists. The setting, in which the audience sits on stage with the ensemble, allows listeners an unmatched level of musical intimacy.

Pianist William Wolfram joins conductor Stefan Sanderling and the Toledo Symphony in a program of Mozart and Strauss at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Tickets range from $20 to $48. Wolfram and Toledo Symphony musicians present chamber music by Janacek and Shostakovich at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Peristyle. On Sunday, the audience must enter through the stage door. Tickets are $10. Information: 419-246-8000.

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