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Published: Thursday, 1/26/2006

Concert pairs musical rivals

Kimberly Bryden Kimberly Bryden

Think of this weekend's Toledo Symphony program as a replay of 18th-century Vienna's Battle Royal that never was.

Back then, Wolfgang Mozart supposedly hungered for Antonio Salieri's cushy job as a composer in the court of Emperor Joseph II. The not-so-talented Salieri supposedly was jealous of his musical better, the often-exasperating genius Mozart, just six years the junior. Salieri poisoned Mozart, or so say the wags.

It's all entertaining enough, but these are stories for later times rather than those of the musicians themselves. Yes, Mozart did crave a high-level court position and yes, he was Salieri's musical better. But Salieri was more than competent in the musical language of the day. At any rate, he had no reason to "do in" Mozart.

Area listeners can compare the composers' musical mettle Saturday when the Toledo Symphony pairs the two in a 7:30 p.m. Mozart & More program at the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center. Rounding out the program will be the orchestra's gifted principal oboist Kimberly Bryden, who is featured in Jean Francaix's "Flower Clock for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra."

Salieri outlived Mozart by more than 30 years, but like the latter, contributed a healthy corpus of work early on. Featured on Saturday is a rarely performed symphony dating from 1770, when Salieri was just 20 years old.

It not really fair to contrast this early work with Mozart's Symphony No. 40, one of the composer's greatest. But then, Battle Royals have never been about fairness. Written in 1788, when the composer was at the height of his astonishing powers, the music is an exploration of controlled passion and classical balance.

Skip forward nearly 200 years to the Frenchman Jean Francaix and his "Flower Clock," a set of seven character pieces inspired by flowers said to bloom at specific times of day.

And yes. Some of these lovely blooms are deadly if digested.

Oboist Kimberly Bryden joins conductor Chelsea Tipton II and the Toledo Symphony in a program of music by Salieri, Francaix, and Mozart at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College, Sylvania. Tickets are $28 and $32. Information: 419-246-8000.

Contact Steven Cornelius at:scornelius@theblade.com

or 419-724-6152.

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