The Utah Symphony sprinted to the finish line on Friday, closing its season with energetic performances of three diverse and lively works.
Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme received the most enthusiastic reception from the good-sized crowd in Abravanel Hall. The soloist was hometown favorite Matthew Zalkind, an up-and-coming cellist whose parents, trombonist Larry and violist Roberta, are longtime members of the orchestra. (Larry Zalkind will be taking a leave of absence next season, having accepted a teaching position at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.) The young Zalkind may have enjoyed a home-court advantage in the hearty welcome he received from the audience and orchestra, but he proved himself a worthy soloist in his own right. He demonstrated not only a formidable technique, but a most engaging musical voice. Zalkind gave each of the variations a distinct character as the musical arc of the piece moved from stately Rococo to unabashed Romanticism. Most of all, the extroverted cellist made it all sound and look like such fun, it's easy to imagine him inspiring a host of other youngsters to take up the instrument.