TAMPA — Classical music will always have Vienna, home of the great composers. Two of the greatest supply the music for this weekend's concerts by the Florida Orchestra. One of them, Mozart, was never quite accepted by his adopted city, despite his genius, while the other composer, Johann Strauss Jr., wrote waltzes, marches and polkas that epitomized Viennese high society.
Klauspeter Seibel, a veteran German maestro, led the orchestra Friday at Ferguson Hall of Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Mozart occupied the first half of the evening , starting with a pleasant but somnolent reading of his Symphony No. 35 (Haffner), which Seibel conducted without a score. Things picked up in the final movement that Mozart said should "go as fast as possible."
The artistic highlight of the program was Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17, with soloist Markus Groh, a German who played a Prokofiev concerto with the orchestra five years ago. Groh is a brilliant technician, but where he was most impressive was in the second movement that requires as much expressiveness and delicacy of touch as bravura playing. His performance of the cadenza was especially good as he paused moodily in the middle of a phrase — yes, it was kind of showy but effective nonetheless — before diving back into the music.
Mozart's fondness for the bassoon is on display in prominent passages in the symphony and concerto, and principal Anthony Georgeson acquitted himself well.
The stock market plunged again on Friday, but the orchestra had an answer to the deepening recession: the fun, unabashedly schmaltzy music of Vienna's chief waltz manufacturer, milked for all its worth by Seibel, who provided play-by-play commentary between numbers.
Lost most of your savings in the market over the past year or two? No worries, let the irresistible melody of On the Beautiful Blue Danube sweep your cares away.
The whole second half of the concert was devoted to music of Strauss, favorites like the Gypsy Baron Overture, Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, the Persian March and other jaunty little tone poems to the Austro-Hungarian empire.
John Fleming can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8716.