There is probably no better way to lay summer to rest than with a strong dose of Tchaikovsky. And when you end the canons of the Wasatch Mountainmen to the brew, you're bound to have a blast or go out with a bang.
But before Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture came dangerously close to causing an avalanche in the mountains, the audience was serenaded in this all Tchaikovsky's concert with a lilting waltz movement from the composers "Serenade for Strings." This delightful piece of music was taken at a bright, brisk tempo by the evening's conductor Bruce Hangen. He infused this movement with a light, devil-may-care attitude that made it irresistible.The next piece before intermission was the weightier "Romeo and Juliet Overture." Hangen's interpretation of this piece highlighted and brought into relief the strongly contrasted themes here. The opening corral theme for woodwinds was played almost reverentially by the orchestra to great effect.
This theme was thrown into stark relief by the seductive love theme that first appears about halfway through the piece. This theme was almost wicked in its sensuality.
After intermission, it was Eugene Watanabe's turn to dazzle the audience. He played the beloved and famous piano concerto. The first impression you got of his performance was that he attacked the piano instead of playing it. It was rough, choppy and unrefined. Although he handled the large gestures quite well, there was no direction in his playing.
Hangen's direction of the orchestra also went for the loud effects instead of subtlety. As such, his accompaniment fits Watanabe's performance hand-in-glove. It was rousing and kept the kids awake.
The last piece, of course, was the "1812 Overture." This performance delivered it all - rousing martial music, sinewy sentimental tunes and, oh yes, cannons. This was a fun and campy performance that almost brought the house down.