Gershwin came to Ravel, asking for composition lessons, and Ravel refused, suggesting that Gershwin develop his own style. Ravel's piano concerto in G major, the opener in Friday night's Salt Lake Symphony concert, sounded like just the sort of piece Gershwin would have admired.
Julie Brunson Izatt's sparkling and witty rendition brought out Ravel's lighter side. The orchestra fleshed out Ravel's imaginative counterpoint and harmonies with stand-out performances by harpist Julie Garner and clarinetist Jaren Hinckly.The Ravel piece was followed by Schumann's piano concerto in A minor, played by Melanie Nelson Squires. Squires entered gracefully with an appropriate lilt, and the piece grew in expressiveness from there. She maintained perfect balance within her own playing and with the orchestra under the able baton of James Caswell. Squires' playing had enormous contrast, and the whole piece had a reaching other-worldly feel.
Mozart's Concerto No. 21 began a little slow and serious for the witty piece that it is, which caused some friction when pianist Richard Rhinehart entered. However, pianist and orchestra soon settled their differences and Rhinehart did a fabulous job. His cadenza, devised by Mitsuko Ochida, had an originality and spark which carried over into the closing.
That spark became a seething fire with Jackie Tomlinson Ward's spellbinding rendition of Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor, third movement. Her energy was relentless as she sculpted Greig's terraced phrases, carrying the piece's tempestuous melodic line through to the end. She was most captivating in the quiet middle section which she phrased maturely.
Cassandra Parker Broadhead's performance of Beethoven's 4th piano concerto captured both its pensive edge and gentle lyricism. Broadhead was followed by Jeremiah Perry and Richard Marshall playing the first and third movements of Rahmoninoff's concerto No. 2. respectively.
Perry played the opening chords with intensity and suspense, which he carried through the ambiguous harmonies and sweetly yearning main theme, and Marshall ended the evening with a clean and lucidly phrased 3rd movement.