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Originally published Friday, January 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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A cellist with an ear for Radiohead

Is a Radiohead fan a Radioheadhead? That might be a moot question, but cellist Joshua Roman is undoubtedly a fan of the English alternative rock band.

Seattle Times music critic

Is a Radiohead fan a Radioheadhead?

That might be a moot question, but cellist Joshua Roman is undoubtedly a fan of the English alternative rock band that's been performing almost as long as the 23-year-old Roman has been alive. The influence of Radiohead will be perceived in a genre-bending "Quartet" concert programmed by Roman, principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony and artistic director of TownMusic (the exploratory music series at Seattle's Town Hall).

"Quartet," which starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, had its genesis in Roman's long-held desire to play Radiohead music on his cello.

"I'm really enthralled by Jonny Greenwood, the guitarist, who also is an amazing composer. When I was pulling the music together for this concert, I wanted to have a concert that exemplifies the idea that really cool music can cross boundaries."

Greenwood's fondness for 20th-century composer Olivier Messiaen inspired Roman to include the latter's "Quartet for the End of Time" on the Town Hall program. Composed and premiered while Messiaen was in a German prison camp, the otherworldly quartet will feature Roman with clarinetist Bill Kalinkos, pianist Grace Fong and violinist Amy Iwazumi. Kalinkos and Fong are Roman's schoolmates from graduate school (Cleveland Institute of Music).

Also on the program: Dan Visconti's rock-influenced "Fractured Jams," with the same instrumentation as the Messiaen. The second half has the four musicians joined by vocalist Sarah Rudinoff and instrumentalist John Osebold in works by Radiohead.

Radiohead's new CD, "In Rainbows," stepped outside the traditional model of CD distribution when the band made it downloadable by all on a "pay what you want" basis.

"The new CD is awesome," says Roman. "I love it. It's so tight — completely fresh but still Radiohead. I'm amazed at how they can pull this off."

When he's not programming new works or performing with the Symphony in Benaroya Hall, Roman is busy with solo engagements. This month his travels include a trip to Germany ("meeting with people"); then he is off to Japan, where Roman already has played several concerts. Future trips are planned to Singapore, New York and Vienna.

For Thursday's concert at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle, advance tickets are $15 and $18 at www.brownpapertickets.com, or 800-838-3006. Tickets at the door, if available, are $17 and $20.

Beethoven bonanza

Over at the Seattle Symphony, they're seeing the old year out — and the new year in — with the symphonies of Beethoven. The last days of 2007 brought in a run of Beethoven's Ninth ("Choral") performances, with Gerard Schwarz on the podium for the master's longest and arguably greatest symphony.

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This week, the famous Beethoven Fifth gets an airing in a span of concerts that started Thursday and continue through a "Musically Speaking" play-and-discuss program on Sunday.

On this weekend's program, Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 will be preceded by a pair of well-known classics: Johann Strauss' paean to three-quarters time, "On the Beautiful Blue Danube" Waltzes, and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor (K.466).

Not sure about which Mozart concerto that one is? If you visit the following Web link, you can hear excerpts of all three movements: http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/mozart_piano_con20.html.

The pianist for these concerts is Stewart Goodyear, a Canadian artist now in his late 20s, who has made an excellent impression in previous outings at the Seattle Symphony (in quite varied repertoire, from Mozart to an all-Gershwin New Year's Eve event). You'll hear him play at the unusual hour of 7 tonight, repeated Saturday at 8 and Sunday (the "Musically Speaking" program) at 2. Schwarz conducts the concerts. Tickets, at $17 to $125, can be purchased at 206-215-4747 or toll-free at 866-833-4747, or at www.seattlesymphony.org.

Seeking Sweden

Take a bargain trip to Scandinavia with the Mostly Nordic chamber music series, which visits each of the five Nordic countries in its 13th season beginning this Sunday at 4 p.m. The concerts are all followed by a smörgåsbord of the featured country's culinary delicacies (the dinners are included in the ticket price). Admission to the Nordic Heritage Museum's exhibits (concerts are held in the museum) is free to concertgoers before the performance. This weekend, the Mostly Nordic focus is Sweden: Pianist Lisa Bergman joins Keith Bohm, alto saxophone, in sonatas and other works of Erland von Koch, Lars-Erik Larsson and others. Bergman, the series artistic director, is well known to Northwest audiences; Bohm's performance credits span the Kennedy Center and the Montreux Jazz Festival. (Next up: Norway, on Feb. 10, with the Camerata Tacoma.)

For tickets ($37-$41), call the Nordic Heritage Museum (206-789-5707, ext. 10).

Melinda Bargreen: mbargreen@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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