The Intermezzo Chamber Music Series returns this week to enrich the musical diets of Salt Lake-area listeners. Series president David Porter promises a balanced menu of familiar and unusual fare, performed by seasoned veterans and newcomers.
“Because of the recent influx of such numbers of new players [in the Utah Symphony], we have a lot of players to feature,” said Porter, a violinist who joined the orchestra in 1997 and started Intermezzo with friends including his wife, pianist Vedrana Subotic, in 2003.
Many, but not all, of those musicians can be heard in Abravanel Hall during the regular concert season, he said. “It’s always good to remember that there are many excellent players in the area who are neither in the Utah Symphony nor [on the faculty of] the University of Utah nor BYU. There’s a richness of exceptional players in the entire Salt Lake Valley. The difference between when I moved here and now is palpable.”
Two relative newcomers to the orchestra, principal second violinist Claude Halter and his wife, cellist Anne Lee, will join Subotic in this season’s opening concert. They’ll play trios and sonatas by Debussy and Dvorák.
“Claude, Anne and Vedrana all have a wonderful lyricism and subtlety to their playing that lends itself well to the Debussy pieces,” Porter said. Dvorák’s popular “Dumky” Trio, also noted for its lyricism, is the evening’s major work.
Porter is enthusiastic about teaming up with bassist Jens Tensbroek, a two-year veteran of the Utah Symphony, in Bottesini’s Gran Duo Concertante for the second Intermezzo concert of the season. “It’s the kind of music rarely heard on Intermezzo,” he said. “It’s a fascinating and difficult piece that gives the [double bass] a chance to shine.” Because there won’t be time to tune the instrument to the different pitch required for the next piece on the bill, Dvorák’s String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Tensbroek will hand off the bass duties to Utah Symphony principal David Yavornitzky. Rounding out that week’s program is a performance of John Corigliano’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, in which Porter will join Utah Symphony principal keyboardist Jason Hardink.
The midpoint of the season will feature “three of the great personalities of the Utah Symphony,” Porter said. Mercedes Smith, Brant Bayless and Louise Vickerman — flute, viola and harp principals, respectively — will play a Debussy sonata and join Porter in a Mozart quartet. Also on the program are Joaquín Turina’s “Escena Andaluza” Sextet and Juan Arriaga’s String Quartet No. 3.
“I don’t think anyone has accused any of them of being boring,” Porter said of his colleagues. He noted that this is a rare chance for Utahns to hear Vickerman, a popular player dubbed “the world’s most dangerous harpist,” as she’s taking a sabbatical next season.
Porter will fulfill a lifelong dream when he plays the viola on the Aug. 5 concert. He’ll team up with two Utah Symphony colleagues, violinist Lun Jiang and cellist Pegsoon Whang, in Beethoven’s Serenade for String Trio, which Porter considers a warmup for the composer’s great string quartets. Pianist Karlyn Bond of the Westminster College faculty will join them in Brahms’ C Minor Piano Quartet; Zoltán Kodály’s Duo for Violin and Cello, performed by Jiang and Whang, will add Hungarian flavor to the evening.
Subotic will anchor the final concert of the season. In addition to playing in Bartók’s “Contrasts” trio and Dóhnanyi’s Piano Quintet, she will partner soprano Cheryl Hart in Utah composer Steve Roens’ “Elegies” and solo in a set of etudes by Vasilije Mokranjac. “He’s well-known in the former Yugoslavia but little-known outside it,” Porter said of the late Serbian composer.
There may be serious music happening onstage, but Intermezzo also is known for guerrilla performances of works by Elliott Carter, onstage pizza deliveries, elaborately staged pratfalls and other stunts. Porter said this season will hold some surprises as well, hinting that the hijinks will have something to do with “something musically significant that happened in the past year.”
P The Intermezzo Chamber Music Series presents concerts every Monday night, except July 22, through Aug. 12.
When • Mondays, 7:30 p.m.
Where • Vieve Gore Concert Hall in the Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory, 1250 E. 1700 South, Salt Lake City.
Tickets • $18; $15 for seniors; free for children and students with ID. Season tickets $72; $60 for seniors.