The devil was up to his old tricks in Salt Lake City this weekend. The NOVA Chamber Music Series opened its season Sunday with Stravinsky's intimate cautionary play "The Soldier's Tale" by sheer coincidence, the day after the Utah Symphony finished its two-performance run of Berlioz's grandiose music drama "The Damnation of Faust."
Sunday's performance was a collaboration with Plan-B Theatre Company, which added a director and three actors to NOVA's conductor and seven instrumentalists. The lively acoustics of Libby Gardner Concert Hall made it tricky at first to make out all the words in the witty libretto, but the actors adjusted quickly enough.
Doug Fabrizio filled the narrator's role with panache. Jay Perry and Jason Tatom seemed ideally cast as the hapless soldier and the wily devil. As prepared by director Christy Summerhays, the three pulled off their roles with razor-sharp timing and a sly delivery that had the good-sized audience laughing at all the right moments.
Steven Schick led the ensemble of seven Utah Symphony players clarinetist Lee Livengood, bassoonist Lori Wike, trumpeter Jeff Luke, trombonist Larry Zalkind, percussionist Keith Carrick, violinist Kathryn Eberle and bassist Corbin Johnston in a crisp and well-focused performance of Stravinsky's lean, acerbic score.
There was solid playing all around, though Eberle, whose music represented the soldier's soul, and Carrick had the most memorable parts to play.
NOVA artistic director Jason Hardink set the stage for Stravinsky's fateful musical encounter by programming a wildly divergent first half. Eberle and Schick took turns performing selections from the venerable J.S. Bach and 20th-century composer Iannis Xenakis: Eberle in two elegant and contemplative movements from Bach's solo violin masterpieces, and Schick in the primal and spell-binding "Rebonds" and "Psappha" for solo percussion.
'The Soldier's Tale'
The NOVA Chamber Music Series opens its season with a concert production of Stravinsky's music drama in a collaboration with Plan-B Theatre Company. Also on the program: works of Bach and Xenakis.
With • Actors Doug Fabrizio, Jay Perry and Jason Tatom; director Christy Summerhays; and percussionist and conductor Steven Schick.
When • Sunday, Sept. 29, 3 p.m.
Where • Libby Gardner Concert Hall, 1375 E. Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City