The Beautiful Blue Danube

Vi-en-na —the lower lip curling inward in delight and the tongue taking a step to the palate and coming back like a sensuous ballet movement has enough music in its three syllables.

Written by Debesh Banerjee | Published: March 8, 2009 4:31 am

The Vienna Chamber Orchestra takes Strauss to a mall roof

Vi-en-na —the lower lip curling inward in delight and the tongue taking a step to the palate and coming back like a sensuous ballet movement — has enough music in its three syllables. Yes,sometimes you just have to steal from Nabokov. And sometimes you also have to thank diplomats for letting you waltz with Strauss as the beautiful blue Danube somehow makes it way through Delhi,even if it is on the roof of a mall or on the green of a park. The Vienna Chamber Orchestra is in Delhi,as part of a five-city tour to celebrate 60 years of Indo-Austrian diplomatic relations.

It has been three years since the orchestra came visiting with Bach and Haydn in its violin strings,but there is a big difference this time. On the rooftop of DLF Place,Saket,as the after-chill of winter hung in the air on Friday evening,the 36-member Viennese orchestra played alongside a similar number of Indian musicians and performed a seven-minute fusion composition with the sarangi maestro Ustad Kamal Sabri. The 35-year-old violinist Roland Winkler was delighted: “This is the first time I am playing with Indian classical musicians. Judging by the success of this performance,I look forward to more such fusions.”

But open air is not the best place for an orchestra — and sound glitches saw the performance being delayed by half hour. Gudrun Hardiman,director of the Austrian Cultural Forum,defended the decision: “An open-air venue was chosen to have maximum involvement from the audience. There wasn’t much difficulty for the orchestra after the sound was amplified.”

Post the discordant notes,the music flowed,conducted by the 36-year-old Olav Blaslev,whose mother is Bengali. The 90-minute performance had three compositions by Strauss: the majestic Emperor Waltz,followed by a shorter version of On the Beautiful Blue Danube and the up-tempo Radetzky March,one of his famous compositions dedicated to a Habsburg field marshal called Joseph Radetzky von Radetz. “Since we are a Viennese orchestra,people assume that we mostly play Viennese composers like Mozart and Schubert,but we also like to play compositions of Strauss and Haydn,” says Balslev,who performs with the Symphony Orchestra,Mumbai,as well.

They will perform today at the Garden of Five Senses with the children of the Mozart Choir of India. “We will begin with an overture from Strauss,then we will perform tracks from Sound of Music. It will be followed by two movements from Schubert’s Symphony No. 3 and waltzes from Strauss,” says Balslev.

The concert at the Garden of Five Senses starts at 5 pm today. The Vienna Chamber Orchestra will perform at 7 pm at Kamani Auditorium on Monday. Entry is free for the concerts. Audience has to be seated half hour before the performance begins.

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