Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Symphony in full bloom for Classics Concert VII

Spring weather has flirted shamelessly with Toledoans since the season change: Some days are almost tropical; others, like last night, tend toward frosty.

But it was blue skies, warm sun, and blooming music during the Toledo Symphony's Classics Concert VII last night in the Peristyle.

Led by principal conductor Stefan Sanderling, the orchestra sounded mature and sonorous in works by three of Europe's most famed romantic composers.

Moreover, the audience -- not large but very supportive -- had the pleasure of meeting rising star soloists Karen Gomyo, violin, and Christian Poltera, cello, in a stunning debut.

The Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello was the perfect vehicle for this 20-something couple, stars on the rise who are musical soul mates (not to mention romantically involved).

Poltera took ownership of the work early in the first movement, establishing the solo theme with clarity and understated drama. Joining him, Gomyo played with brilliant tone and fluid grace, adding elaborate filigree to his graceful lines.

Together, Gomyo and Poltera seemed sparkling gemstones for which the orchestra crafted an 18-carat setting, warm, golden, and supportive. The future for this duo looks bright and will be even more glittering when they add to their repertoire.

The evening opened with a very authentic reading of Johann Strauss' delicious "Voices of Spring" waltz. Sanderling set a measured yet lively tempo and directed a casually sophisticated performance that was very Viennese in its sly humor and grace.

Perhaps the most satisfying and surprising performance of the evening was Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 1, an uberromantic work.

Subtitled "Spring," this Opus 28 offers obvious contrasts in musical styles and subtle shifts in mood that add up to a complex piece. Sanderling parsed it very neatly, and the orchestra's strings showed off their increased horsepower -- a richer, deeper sound -- plus enhanced flexibility.

Winds and brass were fine as ever, with some lovely solos by flutist Joel Tse. Overall, the concert demonstrated yet again that this orchestra is maturing and discovering new potential.

The concert is to repeat Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 to $50 at 419-246-8000 or Student rush tickets at $5 go on sale one hour before the concert.

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