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Chamber breathes life into some classics

DEER VALLEY MUSIC FESTIVAL, UTAH SYMPHONY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, Temple Har Shalom, Park City, Aug. 5

It's not often one hears the woodwind section of the Utah Symphony by itself. But a part of the group opened Wednesday's chamber orchestra concert at Temple Har Shalom with Beethoven's Octet in E flat major, op. 103.

Despite its high opus number, the octet is an early work. It's classically structured, and the thematic material is also clearly from the classical era. And except for the minuet, which in its humor and nimble lightness has scherzo-like characteristics, the octet shows little of how Beethoven would develop as a composer.

Nevertheless, it's a charming piece, and the eight musicians, under the baton of associate conductor David Cho, did an admirable job with it.

Cho's reading brought freshness to the music. The outer movements were vibrant, while the song-like Andante was lyrical, with Cho coaxing expressive articulation from the players. It was warm and rich and the highlight of the work.

Completing the first half of the concert was Stravinsky's neo-classical "Dumbarton Oaks" Concerto for 15 instruments. Cho's precisely delineated beat made sure that the musicians played it crisply and with clear-cut phrasings.

Rounding out the concert was Mendelssohn's youthful one-movement String Symphony No. 10 in B minor. The members of the string section gave a radiant reading of the piece that was beautifully crafted and wonderfully sonorous.

e-mail: ereichel@desnews.com