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Review: Intermezzo pairs the daring and the familiar

Published July 15, 2013 10:56 pm

Review • Musicians show off their technical chops, then give a tender tribute to colleagues.
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Two of Salt Lake City's premier chamber-music series came together on Monday as NOVA artistic director Jason Hardink made a guest appearance on the Intermezzo Chamber Music Series.

Hardink was one of the featured performers in John Corigliano's Sonata for Violin and Piano, written in 1963, then returned in an unbilled role playing a piano reduction of the orchestra score in Bottesini's Gran Duo Concertante for Violin and Double Bass, written in 1880. The Corigliano sonata was a delightful tour de force for the versatile pianist and his partner in crime, violinist David Porter, who also is president of the Intermezzo series. Bracing yet playful, it was an ideal selection for summer. The sonata requires a respectable amount of technical prowess, yet what stood out most was its expressive power. Both musicians dug in with athleticism and gusto.

Porter and Hardink returned with one of their newer Utah Symphony colleagues, bassist Jens TenBroek, to perform the Bottesini. This all-too-short selection played out almost like a sporting event, with Porter and TenBroek maintaining eye contact virtually throughout as their respective instruments sometimes paralleled each other and at other times engaged in a cheeky give-and-take. There was virtuosity aplenty in the violin part, but TenBroek arguably won on points as he deftly exploited the bass's entire tonal range — playing at the very edge of the fingerboard and beyond.

This was Porter's week to pay his musical dues, a week after his wife, Intermezzo music director and pianist Vedrana Subotic, played on all of the evening's works in the season opener. After intermission, Porter sat first chair in a performance of Dvorák's G Major String Quintet. The partnership among Porter, violinist Claude Halter, violist Roberta Zalkind, cellist Anne Lee and bassist David Yavornitzky was solid — especially considering that Zalkind was a last-minute substitute on the program — and the quintet had a comfortable, friendly vibe. But its rustic charm seemed a little old-fashioned after the daring musical exploits that preceded it.

The same five musicians ended the evening on a somber note, repeating the slow movement of the Dvorák in acknowledgment of three tragedies that have struck the Utah Symphony in the past month: the June 28 plane crash that critically injured horn player Ron Beitel and killed his 2-year-old son, Oliver; the July 1 Bear Lake boating accident that took the life of Lucas Allyn, adult son of bassist Jamie Allyn and recently retired bassist Lisa Bruemmer; and Sunday's death from a brain tumor of longtime principal cellist Ryan Selberg. —

Intermezzo Chamber Music Series

Utah Symphony members perform music of Corigliano, Bottesini and Dvorák.

Where • Vieve Gore Concert Hall at Westminster College, 1250 E. 1700 South, Salt Lake City.

When • Monday.

More • After taking next week off, the series continues the next three Mondays at 7:30 p.m. in Vieve Gore Concert Hall; tickets are $18 ($15 for seniors, free for students with ID).