Whether by coincidence or design, Friday’s Utah Symphony concert of Scottish-themed works landed on St. Andrew’s Day, a Scottish national holiday. But it was Japanese violinist Fumiaki Miura, making his United States performance debut, who made the concert’s most lasting impression.
Playing Max Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy,” he quickly made believers of an enthusiastic Abravanel Hall audience, nimbly traversing the folk-song-rich work with lustrous tone that added a radiant thread throughout the brooding score.
The work’s finale was a joyful nod to Scotland’s indomitable spirit, highlighted by Miura’s technical prowess and musical flair that increased with each variation.
The “Fantasy’s” beginning was briefly held up while harpist Louise Vickerman replaced a broken string, but it was worth the wait to hear her beautiful featured moments.
Music Director Thierry Fischer and the orchestra matched Miura’s compelling performance, continuing their insightful energy into the concert’s second half with an ear-opening performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, “Scottish.” This continues Fischer’s cycle of the composer’s four symphonies.
During his brief tenure at the symphony’s helm, Fischer continues to give a fresh look to pretty much everything he conducts. Extra emphasis given to well-chosen notes, clean articulation and tempos that are sometimes slightly different than expected perked up the ear with refreshing new insights. The symphony’s impeccable preparation allowed a feeling of interpretative spontaneity and momentum, especially during the work’s stormy first movement.
Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 3 opened the concert. Most of the musicians stood during this work, which incorporated Jason Hardink at the harpsichord, bridging the Baroque and Classical periods. Strings were especially unified in technical and expressive efforts during this selection.
Claude Debussy’s “Marche ecossaise, sur un theme populaire,” more commonly referred to as his “Scottish March,” rounded out the concert’s nod to Scotland. Commissioned by Scottish General Meredith Reid, the work left the audience with a more vibrant, playful portrait of Scotland.
A Scottish Symphony
P Bottom line • Violinist’s fearless spirit and conductor’s attention to detail provided a new look at some traditional works.
When • Friday; repeats Saturday
Where • Abravanel Hall