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Review: Utah Symphony shows its versatility in wide-ranging program

Published October 29, 2013 9:00 am

Review • Colorful showpieces are paired with elegant concerto.
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It's a symphonic grab bag this weekend at Abravanel Hall — two sassy show­pieces by Paul Dukas, an elegant Mozart piano concerto and a grand Sibelius symphony.

Pianist Orion Weiss is the soloist, performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major. (For those who have trouble remembering which of Mozart's 27 works in that genre is which, this is the one that seems to foreshadow one of Papageno's tunes in "The Magic Flute.") Mozart's melodic genius was on full display in Weiss' performance Friday, as the American pianist played with clear, a conversational technique and good voice leading. The pianist performed his own well-crafted cadenza in the first movement of the concerto. He also was a congenial collaborator with the Utah Symphony and guest conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier. There were moments when his interaction with flutist Lisa Byrnes and oboist Robert Stephenson, in particular, seemed almost like chamber music.

Tortelier conducted the entire evening with no baton and with big, idiosyncratic gestures (and, occasionally, some idiosyncratic phrasing).His reading of the Sibelius Symphony No. 5 was grandiose and sweeping. The first movement ended with such a flourish that a handful of audience members burst into apparently involuntary applause (their chagrin was nearly palpable). Tortelier and the orchestra also built to a rousingly punchy finish at the end of the final movement, which featured some fine work by the brass players.

The orchestra's brass section also shone in the two curtain-raisers. A lively performance of Dukas' Fanfare from "La Peri" made a nifty introduction to "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," which followed without pause. It's impossible to hear this music without thinking of Mickey Mouse and endless buckets of water, but this colorful performance would have told the story vividly enough even without those built-in mental pictures. —

Utah Symphony

Music of Dukas, Mozart and Sibelius.

With • Conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier and pianist Orion Weiss.

When • Reviewed Friday, Oct. 25; repeats Saturday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m.

Where • Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City.

Running time • Two hours, including intermission.

Tickets • $23 to $74 at http://www.utahsymphony.org or the box office.

Learn more • Tortelier and Weiss will chat about the music with Utah Symphony artistic-planning VP Toby Tolokan onstage at 7 p.m.