Thursday evening's superb Utah Symphony chamber concert was indeed a fine swansong for Joseph Silverstein, who ended his 15 year reign at the helm of the Utah Symphony with this concert.
Silverstein chose an all-Haydn program of only two works: the early Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Strings in C major (from the early 1760s) and the incomparable "Lord Nelson" Mass from 1798.Utah Symphony associate concertmaster Leonard Braus was soloist in the violin concerto. Despite a few minor problems with intonation in the first movement, he gave a convincing performance of this work, sturdily supported by the string orchestra.
Especially beautiful was his interpretation of the slow second movement. This is a lovely serenade with plucked string accompaniment. Braus made his violin sing in this movement. His playing quite literally transported the listener to another level of consciousness.
The audience was also treated to an encore: Paganini's "Variations on the G String on Themes from `Moses' by Rossini." For his bravura performance Braus received a well-deserved standing ovation.
The "Lord Nelson" Mass was sheer magic right from the opening chords. Silverstein had some brilliant musicians at hand. Besides the Utah Symphony there was the magnificent Utah Symphony Chorus and soloists Julie Wright, soprano; Laura Garff Lewis, mezzo-soprano; George Dyer, tenor; and Clayne Robison, bass. These are outstanding singers who gave their all to make this performance a memorable one. Wright especially was a standout with her lovely yet powerful voice that carried above the chorus in loud passages without losing its beauty.
Silverstein brought out the nobility, drama, lyricism and the ultimate triumph of this music. His interpretation was vibrant and alive. This was truly one of his best performances ever.