By Avery Dall-Hilton, A review by Front Row Reviewers.
As always, the Utah Symphony does not disappoint with a stunning performance at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3. Ringing in the new year with the first performance of 2024, the symphony is joined by special guest violinist Francesca Dego and conductor David Danzmayr.
The evening begins with a boom in Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, Op. 62. This piece is full of twists and turns, stops and surprises, keeping you on the edge of your seat in time to sweep you away with the familiar, lilting melody. The number of symphony members is reduced, keeping it light and bouncing as Maestro Danzmayr demonstrates with excellent conducting.
One of the performance’s highlights is a stunning violin concerto. Dego is delightful as she skillfully navigates three movements of difficult music. Having played a Mozart concerto myself in years past, I know firsthand just how challenging this music is. Dego, backed by the fantastic orchestra, tackles the music with a playful spirit. She emphasizes the back and forth style by teasing the orchestra as she takes and passes the melodic line. There is a vast difference between playing something correctly and playing with style and Dego surpasses all expectation with her enthusiastic expression. Whether playing with the orchestra or standing on her own during daring cadenzas, everything from trills to double-stops are executed to perfection.
After a brief intermission, the audience is treated to a newer work by composer Carlos Simon. This piece, Fate Now Conquers, was inspired by both the Iliad by Homer and Beethoven’s own work. It is both beautiful and jarring as we hear the entire symphony orchestra join for the first time in the evening. One of the highlights of the short piece is a gorgeous cello solo that brings the most solemn attitude of the night.
The final piece of the night is Beethoven’s famous 7th symphony; it serves as a majestic bookend to the evening. Danzmayr showcases his full range as a conductor with the sweeping sound of the final number as contrasted with the earlier, lighter music. Even after over an hour of playing, symphony members give their all to finish with the biggest and most energetic song as the finale. It is incredible to think that Beethoven’s genius was not impeded by his hearing loss, which began several years before the composition of some of his most famous works. The Utah Symphony and Maestro Danzmayr do true justice to this epic piece, taking special care of the gentler, smoother second movement. By contrast, the final movement begins and ends with explosive energy and passion as we are jubilantly brought to the close of the concert.
The Utah Symphony is a wonderful place for classical music lovers and first-time concert-goers alike. One of the goals of the organization is to bring music both old and new to all audiences and to educate the youth of the community. Audiences are reminded to hold applause between movements (watch for the conductor to purposefully lower his arms), as this interrupts longer pieces as a whole. No matter how much exposure you’ve had with classical music, you’ll be swept away by the Utah Symphony!
Utah Symphony Presents: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3
Maurice Abravanel Hall, 123 W South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, United States
January 6 5:30pm
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Photos provided by The Utah Symphony