UTAH SYMPHONY WITH CELLIST JULIE ALBERS, Abravanel Hall, Friday; additional performance tonight, 8 p.m. (355-2787).

The two works by Tchaikovsky that open this weekend's Utah Symphony concerts show the composer in a different light. If one knows the symphonies, the violin concerto and piano concerto (and who doesn't?), then the orchestral suite "Mozartiana" and the Rococo Variations shed new light on Tchaikovsky.

Both works look to the past for inspiration. And with "Mozartiana," Tchaikovsky actually bases the work on several pieces by Mozart.

But even if they are conscious throwbacks to an earlier era in music history, Tchaikovsky's hand is still very much evident.

"Mozartiana" opened the concert. It is a delightful work with quite a bit of charm, and Keith Lockhart, who conducts this weekend, captured the work's unassuming character with his understated direction.

The orchestra played wonderfully, with clean articulation and crisp phrasings. The "Preghiera," based on Mozart's "Ave verum corpus," was finely nuanced. And in the finale, concertmaster Ralph Matson was in fine form for his lengthy solo. Written in the style of an accompanied cadenza, it allows the player the opportunity to display his talents, and Matson played it stunningly.

Rococo refers to a style of writing in which the music is highly melodic, lyrical, charming but quite superficial. And Tchaikovsky does capture that quality in his Variations. Being the consummate melodicist that he was, Tchaikovsky could certainly write music that was pleasing. But there the similarities between him and the rococo period end.

The young cellist Julie Albers is this weekend's guest soloist. She gave a wonderful performance of the Variations that captured the its lyricism. Her expressive playing was nuanced, her virtuosity striking, and her interpretation polished and eloquent.

After nearly a century, Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," which concluded the concert, hasn't lost its potency. It's still one of the most powerful works to come from the early 20th century. And Lockhart captured all the explosiveness, primeval rhythms and brute force of the score convincingly and with optimum impact. Yet he didn't neglect the work's lyrical side. The opening of the second part was exquisitely expressive and filled with subtlety.

The orchestra gave a tour de force performance. Stand outs were principal bassoon Lori Wike, the expanded brass section as well as the percussion section.


E-mail: ereichel@desnews.com