Cartoon accents, broad comedy nearly derail Pioneer Theatre’s “Orient Express” – Sep 23, 2023

John Tufts is Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, presented by Pioneer Theatre Company. Photo: BW Productions

For the first half of the evening at Pioneer Theatre Company’s staging of Murder on the Orient Express, it felt like Agatha Christie was the one being murdered rather than the victim.

The company’s season-opening production of Ken Ludwig’s adaptation, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, offered a handsome, high-energy show Friday night—one … Read More

Tüür premiere achieves liftoff in Utah Symphony’s Northern program – Apr 22, 2023

Flutist Emmanuel Pahud was the soloist in the U.S. premiere of Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Lux Stellarum, with Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony Friday night at Abravanel Hall.

Fresh on the heels of conducting a sublime performance of Bruckner’s monumental Symphony No. 5, music director Thierry Fischer returned to the Utah Symphony to conduct another seminal fifth symphony, this one by Sibelius. The program also included Sibelius’s Finlandia and the U.S. premiere of Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür’s … Read More

Harmer dazzles in Utah Opera’s downsized season opener – Oct 10, 2020

Wendy Bryn Harmer stars in Poulenc’s La voix humaine, part of Utah Opera’s season-opening double bill. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

Even a pandemic has some silver linings. 

Due to the ongoing public health crisis, Utah Opera audiences won’t hear soprano Wendy Bryn Harmer make her company debut \as Senta in Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman this month. Instead, operagoers have the dramatically different, yet arguably more thrilling, opportunity to hear Harmer’s spectacular gifts showcased in Poulenc’s La voix humaine.

The monodrama, which shares the bill with Joseph … Read More

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

Eighty-eight reasons to seek music online during the shutdown – May 19, 2020

CDs, YouTube, and online concerts continue to provide contact-free home delivery as music lovers shelter from the public-health crisis. Pianist and New York Classical Review regular David Wright navigates the keyboard currents in that broad stream.

Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23. Yuja Wang, pianist (YouTube). youtube.com/watch?v=4l1bs5hlnYk

In October 2006, long before her artistic vision was nearly submerged in the media noise of fashion-obsession and sex-sells, the 19-year-old Yuja Wang gave a senior recital at the Curtis Institute of Music that included this transported (and transporting) performance of … Read More

Krzysztof Penderecki 1933-2020 – Apr 02, 2020

Photo: Marek Beblot

Krzysztof Penderecki, one of the most prominent compositional voices in 20th century music, died Sunday, March 29, at the age of 86. The Ludwig van Beethoven Association, founded by the Polish composer’s wife, Elzbieta, noted that his death came after a long illness.

Born in 1933, Penderecki began studying the violin after World War II, in 1946. In the 1950s, he moved on to Jagiellonian University in Kraków, then to the Academy of Music, where he completed his violin studies and began studying composition first under Artur Malawski and then … Read More

Critic’s Choice – Feb 20, 2020

Francesco Piemontesi

Francesco Piemontesi makes his Utah Symphony debut this weekend playing Schumann’s Piano Concerto, one of the most endearing and celebrated concertos from the 19th century.

The 37-year-old Swiss pianist, a student of Alfred Brendel, has made a name for himself performing with several of the major orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Cleveland Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. He recorded the Schumann concerto a few years ago with the BBC Symphony under Jiri Belohlávek.

This weekend the Utah Symphony … Read More

Guangdong Modern Dance shows its range, versatility with “Beyond Calligraphy” – Feb 05, 2020

Guangdong Modern Dance Company performed Tuesday night in the UtahPresents series. Photo: Li Jianyang

Guangdong Modern Dance Company (GMDC) brought its acclaimed performance Beyond Calligraphy, choreographed in 2005 by Liu Qi, to Kingsbury Hall as part of UtahPresents on Tuesday night. Although its name includes the words “modern dance,” GMDC blends a variety of movement techniques, from ballet to martial arts, and its dancers perform with stunning clarity and precision.

Beyond Calligraphy exhibits the troupe’s impressive range of styles. The two-act production suggests a journey from mechanical, … Read More

Pioneer Theatre’s “Lifespan of a Fact” examines inconvenient truths – Nov 03, 2019

Constance Macy, Ben Cherry, and John Kroft star in The Lifespan of a Fact at Pioneer Theatre Company.

Pioneer Theatre Company is advertising The Lifespan of a Fact as “a showdown between truth and fiction.” Like most things in this 90-minute verbal tennis match, which opened a two-week run Friday night, the reality isn’t so straightforward.

The Lifespan of a Fact comes to Salt Lake City a year after the play made a brief but well-received premiere on Broadway. 

The play opens with magazine editor Emily Penrose … Read More

Critic’s Choice – Apr 17, 2019

Robert Seebacher

This weekend, the Salt Lake Symphony will be playing a concert of well-known works by 19th and 20th century French composers.

On the program, titled “Nuances de bleu,” are Thomas’ overture to the opera Raymond; Debussy’s Petite Suite and La Mer; and Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte.

Leading the orchestra is guest conductor Robert Seebacher, who is the music director of the Johnson City Symphony in Tennessee and the assistant conductor of the National Chorale in New York.

The concert will take place 7:30 p.m. Saturday … Read More