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Symphony soloists sparkle

Chamber shines spotlight on 2 of its own virtuosos

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UTAH SYMPHONY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, Keith Lockhart conducting; Thursday, Jan. 24, Abravanel Hall. One performance only.

It's always a special pleasure to hear members of the Utah Symphony as soloists. The orchestra has many wonderful musicians, and having them step out in front of the orchestra occasionally gives audiences an opportunity to appreciate these performers' talents even more.

Thursday's Utah Symphony Chamber Orchestra concert, conducted by Keith Lockhart, featured two of the orchestra's own in a pair of captivating concertos.

In the first half, concertmaster Ralph Matson soloed in Vivaldi's Concerto for Violin and Strings in E minor, op. 11, No. 2 ("Il Favorito"). The E minor concerto is one of the Italian composer's few works with depth and substance and, accordingly, it stands as one of the finest examples of a concerto from the baroque period.

A consummate violinist, Matson played the E minor with sensitivity and intelligence. In his hands, virtuosity blended with musicality in a performance that was passionately intense and driven. And Lockhart and the orchestra offered Matson solid accompaniment, resulting in a collaboration that was finely tuned and balanced.

Of special note was the gently lyrical andante, in which the soloist is accompanied only by the violins and violas. Matson played this movement with feeling and deep expression, imbuing the music with poignancy and tenderness.

The double bass is rarely seen as a solo instrument, but after intermission, principal bass David Yavornitzky came onstage and played Giovanni Bottesini's Concerto No. 2 in B minor for Double Bass and Orchestra.

Bottesini exploits the double bass' expressive and melodic qualities in this concerto, while at the same time demanding the utmost from the soloist in virtuosity. And Yavornitzky showed himself to be an artist of the highest caliber. He played the B minor concerto with passion, spirit and intensity.

Yavornitzky shone in the taxing outer movements, filled as they are with rapid-scale passages and double stops. And he stood out in the beautiful, aria-like andante, which is scored only for the double bass and strings, playing this movement with heartfelt emotion.

Bookending the concertos were Respighi's "Ancient Airs and Dances," Suite No. 1, and Stravinsky's Suite from "Pulcinella." Lockhart's interpretation of the Respighi captured the mood of each piece perfectly, while Stravinsky's sparkling score was given vitality through Lockhart's brisk tempos. Both were exquisitely played by the orchestra.

E-MAIL: ereichel@desnews.com