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Symphony taking classical turn to Vienna

ALBANY -- This season, the Albany Symphony Orchestra has taken its audiences on a world tour, from romantic Russia to colorful Latin America to Baroque Germany.

Along the way it sprinkled in performances of Christmas music for Peppermint Pops, celebration concerts and concerts aimed at youngsters. Its fundraiser last month took in the sounds of Ireland and its influence on American music.

On Saturday, however, the symphony returns to its roots. It makes its final stop of the 2009-10 subscription series in a place familiar to classical music lovers -- Vienna.

"It's a good way to end the year, just good, on your plate, meat and potatoes classical music," symphony Music Director Claire Fox Hillard said Friday. "We're about a lot of things, but classical music is the main thing.

"We do Peppermint Pops, we do show tunes and we do celebration concerts and we do kiddie concerts, but this kind of reminding people ... Municipal Auditorium with a classical orchestra and classical instruments ... People who like classical music will appreciate it."

The orchestra will also have a trio of guest performers for its 7:30 p.m. performance at the Albany Municipal Auditorium. Violinist Moonkyung Lee, cellist Kirill Rodin and pianist Kyung Eun Kim -- a trio of world-class musicians who have performed individually with orchestras in Asia, Europe and the Americas -- will perform Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the Albany Symphony.

"We've also got this fabulous group ... really, three soloists," Hillard noted. "Piano, violin and cello. And the cellist (Rodin) is actually a professor at the Moscow Conservatory. They're just wanting an opportunity to perform in this country and so we were able to work a real good deal to get those kind of people here in Albany. So, we're looking forward to that."

Orchestra officials say Beethoven's Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin, Cello and Orchestra will give a "celebratory flavor" to a concert that will feature the works of Viennese masters Schubert and Beethoven's teacher, Franz Joseph Haydn.

"We've done different countries all year," Hillard said of the "world tour" that the orchestra brought to the Auditorium this season. "It's like being a preacher. You've got to keep come with ideas on how to do the same thing different every year.

"This year, my idea was to kind of go by the country, but also kind of by period. So, we had the 19th century Russian to start the year, the, of course, we did Latin America. We did the 17th century, the Baroque, with the Germans. This is going to be classical Viennese music, which is all the famous classical composers -- Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven. And so, it's kind of meat and potatoes."

On the program are Haydn's Symphony No. 90 in C Major and Schubert's Overture in D Major "In the Italian Style."

Haydn was one of the most important, prolific and prominent composers of the classical period, ASO officials say. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to those genres. He was also instrumental in the development of the Piano Trio and in the evolution of sonata form. At the time of his death in 1809, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe. He was also a close friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Schubert composed his Overture "In the Italian Style" in November 1817 as Vienna was becoming increasingly fond of Rossini and his Italian counterparts. The Overture in D Major became Schubert's first orchestral work to enjoy a public performance. ASO officials say it is a fine example of Schubert's versatility in adapting style and form, Schubert's characteristic talent for writing beautiful melodies is clearly evident.

The concert is at 7:30 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium, 201 N. Jackson St. Tickets are $35-$38; $30-$33, seniors and military, and $8, students. Those attending can also attend a pre-concert "Conversations with the Conductor" at 6:30 p.m. at the auditorium.

Also, attendees can purchase for $15 a single membership to the Conductor's Circle, which is open at intermission with drinks and snacks. After the concert, members can meet the evening's guest artists and enjoy win, coffee, cheese and desserts.