Under the direction of Robert Debbaut, the Utah Philharmonia presented an ambitious, lengthy and generally successful concert Saturday evening.
The weight of the concert lay in the second half of the program, which featured Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" and Jay Welch's "The Marshes of Glynn."Welch wrote "The Marshes of Glynn" in 1959. The large-scale work, scored for baritone, chorus and orchestra, is based on a poem by the 19th century Southern poet Sydney Lanier. It's well-written and contains elements from the late Romantic period in its harmonic language and in its large gestures.
The work is also very descriptive, with the music and text complementing each other perfectly. Welch has written some very beautiful music here that's lyrical and dramatic, yet also tender and expressive.
Power and the two choirs sounded absolutely great here. Debbaut did a fine job in maintaining balance, with only a few spots where the orchestra and choirs drowned out the soloist. But overall it was an excellent performance.
Power was also featured in the first half, singing Mahler's "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen." He is a fine singer with a rich, warm and expressive voice. Of the four movements, the third was the best. It was a strong performance on Power's part, who put a lot of feeling into his interpretation.
The concert opened with a march movement from Camille Saint-Saens' "Suite Algerienne." This was a frantic and nervous performance of a slight piece that sounded like a fly trying to escape out of a jar.
Much more successful was Wagner's overture to "The Flying Dutchman" that ended the first half of the program. Debbaut got a good solid performance out of the orchestra. The tempos were also fine except for the slow sections, which sounded dull and heavy-handed.
The concert ended with the "1812 Overture" that also featured the choirs - a version that is not often heard. This was a rather mediocre performance that brought out the pomposity of the work and also oversentimentalized the slow sections.
The concert really didn't need this piece. It would have been almost perfect had the evening ended with Welch's work. As it was, the Tchaikovsky made the evening feel overly long and had this listener wondering if he had survived a concert or the entire Napoleonic wars.