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Eugene Weekly : Music : 5.1.08




Mozart Lives

Closing the season with a Classic tribute

BY SUZI STEFFEN

Europe in the 18th century mixed lightness and grace and flirtation, revolution and liberty and terror. But in its music, as in its paintings, balance and fine form abound.

So when the Oregon Mozart Players chose to round out the season with a tribute to that time — when aristocrats dressed as shepherds, when Rousseau wrote of a noble era before agriculture, when the world seemed to open away from the strictures of religion — it's only appropriate that music director Glen Cortese balanced Mozart with other masters.

Quick fact-check: There's classical music, and then there's Classical classical music. Well-known Classical composers include Mozart and Haydn, plus Haydn's most famous student, Beethoven (at least in his early works).

Normally, no one would associate the 20th century Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, whose Romeo and Juliet the Eugene Symphony performed earlier this year, with a Mozartean style. Yet the OMP begins with a quick Prokofiev piece: the "Classical" symphony, Op. 25, which he wrote in tribute to Haydn and with some hallmarks of Mozart's symphonic structure. British conductor Charles Hazlewood says that Prokofiev "digested the style, the essence, the substance" of Haydn without quoting even a single musical passage. The charming third movement begins with a familiar gavotte, and the entire piece manages to combine homage to Haydn with Prokofiev's own sensibility.

A recent addiction to the concert is Spokane soprano Dawn Wolski singing both a Mozart aria, "Tu Virginium Corona" from the gorgeous "Exsultate, Jubilate," and Schubert's Mozart-influenced "Salve Regina." Those provide a bit of a break in the symphonic pieces, which then continue backward in time with that great style-straddler, Beethoven. He was still young — only 23 and at the end of his short-lived time as Haydn's student — when he began writing Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19, in 1794. Eugene fave Yuri Rozum, a Russian pianist who has charmed local audiences for more than a decade, takes on the solo parts of this dramatic piece, music that pays homage to Beethoven's forebears but foreshadows the future. Rozum also plays a recital in intimate Beall Hall Wednesday, May 7, for those who want more soloist and fewer Players.

The concert concludes with a return to Mozart. Don't confuse this Mass in C Major, K. 167, with the more famous Cornonation Mass; this one's nicknamed the Trinity and showcases the OSU University Chamber Choir to bring a conclusion to another strong season for the OMP as it recovers from the near-disaster of 2006. For maximum enjoyment, come 45 minutes early and listen to Cortese explain his programming that honors the Classical greats.    

Oregon Mozart Players Mozart's Influence: Season finale with Yuri Rozum. 8 pm Saturday, May 3, and 2: 30 pm Sunday, May 4. Hult Center • $15-$35