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Mozart opener a triple winner

Last night's Mozart & More concert by the Toledo Symphony was a major event for several reasons.

First, of course, it opened the season for this short but popular series in the Franciscan Center at Lourdes College.

Second, it was the public debut of the orchestra's new piano, the Orser Steinway, a

major coup for the orchestra and a great gift to the community of music lovers.

And third, it was one of those rare programs cast entirely in major keys two works in G Major and one in F Major. How often does that happen?

Maybe the last phenomenon was a little nod toward the Major League Playoffs and guest conductor Scott Yoo. After all, his favored Boston Red Sox were ahead of Tampa Bay by the final notes of the Beethoven. Yoo, among others, had spent intermission following the game on his cell phone.

Musically, all those warm, fuzzy tonalities made for a happy feeling in the hall, which was nearly full, and unified an ambitious program ranging from Baroque (Bach) to Classical (Mozart) to Beethoven (Romantic).

Flutists Joel Tse and Amy Heritage joined Yoo in front of a chamber orchestra for Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 to open the evening's music. Tse and Heritage were so attuned their duets sounded like one amazing flute in smooth and seamless performance.

Yoo, an explosive musician, added the virtuosic solo violin part of the threesome, embroidering the silvery flute line with elaborate runs when he wasn't cueing the orchestra.

With Vince Corrigan at the harpsichord and Dick Alleshouse on bass providing emphatic rhythm and continuo, the work bounced along merrily with moments of surprising delicacy and overall great lan.

How appropriate that Frances Renzi, Toledo's longtime resident artist, was able to bring the new piano to life for an audience. She had favored the Orser instrument serial number 581144 over the symphony's older Steinway 474738 earlier last week in a trial of both at the Peristyle.

On first hearing, the Orser sounded clear and brilliant in Mozart's Concerto No. 17.

Renzi's fluid and elegant performance made the most of the piano's impressive sonority and revealed balanced and even voicing over the entire keyboard.

The final work, Beethoven's Symphony No. 8, offered moments of notable finesse, displays of impressive ensemble power, and rollicking passages of playing by all sections.

However, there were enough moments of disorder during the performance to reduce the overall impact and suggest that more rehearsal would have been beneficial.

The next Toledo Symphony performances are tonight's Blade Chamber Series II, 7 p.m. at the Toledo Club, and the Classics II concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Peristyle. The next Mozart & More will be Jan. 24, 2009.

Contact Sally Vallongo at:

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