Jeff Gordinier
April 17, 1998 AT 04:00 AM EDT

At first blush, Linda Brava comes off like a character in the next Austin Powers movie. She’s a Scandinavian fiddler, after all. Her original surname is…Lampenius. And as she recently displayed in the pages of Playboy, she has more curves than a tightly tuned Stradivarius. As Mozart might say, ”Yeah, baby, yeah!”

But the strange thing about Linda Brava is that she’s not one of Dr. Evil’s leather-clad fembots. With two decades of training under her garter belt, the 28-year-old Pamela Lee clone has an EMI contract that lets her bounce between pop and classical projects. So why the nudie shots? ”This is such a big country, what could be better if you want to get out there and shock people?” purrs the buxom Finn. ”What else could I do that is making me here known faster? Nothing!”

With the classical market in the doldrums, execs aren’t apt to disagree. You may think the typical symphonic star is a balding gnome in a tuxedo, but these days you’ll find as many vixens as virtuosos in the record bins. They probably won’t pose in the buff, but rising talents like Anne Akiko Meyers, Hille Perl, Leila Josefowicz, Clara Ponty, and Mariko Anraku are, candidly speaking, babes — and their record companies don’t mind if you notice. ”You’re trying to go after a consumer who’s used to seeing Madonna and Celine Dion,” explains RCA Victor exec Joe Mozian. ”Maybe putting Anne Akiko Meyers on the cover takes away the stereotype that this music has to be for very pompous, highly educated fuddy-duddies.” The fuddy-duddies might gasp, but cultivating young, sexy stars is one way to prop up what Mozian calls ”a very, very, very, very shrinking market.” In other words, Mozart needs all the Lampenius enlargement he can get.

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