Ten Recordings for Challenging Times – Jun 08, 2020

Vivaldi: Motteti. Simone Kermes, soprano; Andrea Marcon/Venice Baroque Orchestra (Archiv).

Forget the Red Priest’s concertos, operas, and choral music. If you have not heard these blockbuster settings of Latin sacred texts, now is the time. The redoubtable German soprano Simone Kermes takes the solo parts with explosive force and velour smoothness, adding lavish embellishments on top of Vivaldi’s already ornate melodic writing. Far from the wispy sound of many early music sopranos, this is a voice with weight and vehemence.

Conductor Andrea Marcon guides the nimble playing of the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Vivaldi specialists par excellence. One of the highlights, … Read More

Critic’s Choice – Feb 12, 2020

Photo: Beau Pearson

Giselle has proved to be one of the most popular ballets ever written. With a mellifluous score by Adolphe Adam and a plot that is at once a love story and a ghost story it’s easy to understand why the ballet has been an audience favorite ever since its premiere in Paris in 1841.

For decades the work has been a staple in Ballet West’s repertoire and the company is currently performing Giselle in the Capitol Theatre. For this production artistic director Adam Sklute and music … Read More

Fischer, Gomyo team up for a stellar Tchaikovsky with Utah Symphony – Feb 01, 2020

Utah Symphony music director Thierry Fischer and guest violinist Karen Gomyo performing Tchaikovsky’s Vioin Concerto in D major on Friday at Abravnel Hall in Salt Lake City. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

Thierry Fischer and Karen Gomyo were great collaborators on Friday at Abravnel Hall, where a near-capacity crowd got to hear the conductor and guest soloist, respectively, play off one another as if by intuition and demonstrate their fine interpretive skills. 

The occasion was Utah Symphony’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in a concert rounded out by contemporary composer … Read More

A powerful “Rite” and dazzling Mozart from Utah Symphony, Fellner – Nov 23, 2019

Pianist Till Fellner’s mastery of Mozart was on full display Friday in performance with Utah Symphony. Photo: Gabriela Brandenstein

Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring is a classical mainstay and a favorite of Utah Symphony music director Thierry Fischer, who has it back on the program this weekend at Abravanel Hall in a spot-on interpretation that again brings one of orchestral music’s default works to thrilling life.

Fischer on Friday knew just what he wanted to cull from Stravinsky’s score, and the orchestra responded with a virtuoso performance. … Read More

From Bartók to Roens, a delightful study in “Contrasts” at NOVA concert – Nov 19, 2019

Steve Roens’ Countermeasures was given its world premiere at the NOVA Chamber Music series Sunday afternoon at Libby Gardner Concert Hall.

The title for Sunday afternoon’s NOVA Chamber Music series concert in Libby Gardner Concert Hall was “Contrasts,” and the four works on the program certainly lived up to that, since the thrust of each work lay in juxtaposing contrasting styles, textures, tempos, dynamics and articulation.

The featured work was the world premiere of composer and University of Utah faculty member Steve Roens’ Countermeasures for wind quartet: four … Read More

A retooled Pacifica Quartet brings the same top artistry to Salt Lake City – Sep 19, 2019

The Pacifica Quartet performed Wednesday night, presented by the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City.

The Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City opened its season Wednesday night in Libby Gardner Concert Hall with a welcome return visit by the Pacifica Quartet. The ensemble has been a frequent guest here over the years, and each time they’ve engaged their audience with their perceptive playing and well-chosen programs.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Pacifica has gone through personnel changes in recent years and the … Read More

Utah Symphony opens season with music from the canyon to the cosmos – Sep 14, 2019

Thierry Fischer conducted the Utah Symphony in the orchestra’s season-opening program Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

For their season-opening program, Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony took their audience on a heavenly journey Friday night, culminating in an at-times rambunctious but always engrossing performance of Gustav Holst’s The Planets. 

The basis for the program choices for much of the new season is Olivier Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles… Two movements of Messiaen’s epic were played Friday, though the focus this weekend was squarely on Holst’s … Read More

Utah Symphony premiere proves bombastic but Ehnes scores with Bruch – May 18, 2019

James Ehnes performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor with the Utah Symphony Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

Except for Max Bruch’s omnipresent Violin Concerto in G minor, Friday night’s’s Utah Symphony concert at Abravanel Hall celebrated a part of American history.

In addition to two works by Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring and the suite from the ballet Billy the Kid, the program also features the Utah debut of Chinese-American composer Zhou Tian’s Transcend, written to commemorate the … Read More

Utah Opera’s superb cast, colorful staging make for an entertaining “Magic Flute” – Mar 10, 2019

Zulimar López-Hernández (left) as Pamina and Celena Shafer as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at Utah Opera. Photo: Dana Sohm

Mozart’s beloved The Magic Flute opened Saturday night presented by Utah Opera at the Capitol Theater. The opera, Mozart’s last, was premiered mere months before the composer’s death at 35.

Utah Opera’s lively and whimsical production makes it easy to understand why the work has had such staying power over more than two centuries. With its invigorating … Read More

Jackiw brings individual illumination to Brahms concerto with Utah Symphony – Feb 23, 2019

Stefan Jackiw performed Brahms’ Violin Concerto with Mario Venzago and the Utah Symphony Friday night. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

The Utah Symphony presented a program of exclusively Romantic-era music Friday night at Abravanel Hall. The performance took place under the baton of Swiss guest conductor Mario Venzago, and featured soloist Stefan Jackiw performing the popular Brahms Violin Concerto.

Much of the evening’s music originated as works for the opera or theater including the opener, Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 2. Despite the numerical label, … Read More