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Front Row Reviewers: At Salt Lake City’s Abravanel Hall, Utah Symphony Weaves Masterpiece and Mystery with Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos 1 and 2

by Kathryn Olsen

As the Utah Symphony continues its captivating 2018-19 season at Salt Lake City’s Abravanel Hall, this weekend’s concert features emotionally powerful music from Bach to Boulez. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Baroque classics Brandenburg Concertos 1 and 2 bookend the first half of the concert, with a contemporary piece by Pierre Boulez ushering the concert from one concerto to the next; the second half features Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3. It is a concert that allows the entire ensemble to shine, but also features dazzling soloists. I myself approached the concert more familiar with other works by Bach and Copland, having grown up with later Bach concertos and having an affinity for Copland’s “Americana” works.

Conductor Thierry Fischer has been known to interact with the audience to enhance the concert experience and this production was no exception. Rather than launch into the first concerto of the night, he introduced the listeners to some of the unfamiliar instruments used and explains that these piccolo trumpet and piccolo violins are the reason for the different sounds in the Bach works. He then requested that the audience refrain from applause until the end of the first half so they would be able to better the experience the styles of the music. I found this to be a masterful stoke as it engaged the audience and enriched the overall experience.

 

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