According to Viktor Uzur, there's always room for one more chamber music festival in Utah.
He doesn't think adding to the already crowded field is a problem, so he started the Bonneville Chamber Music Festival last year at Ogden's Weber State University, where he teaches cello.
And judging by this year's offerings, Uzur knows what he's doing. The six-day, four-concert festival concluded Saturday evening with a magnificent concert of music by Beethoven, Ravel and Brahms. That concert, as well as the three others, prove that Uzur's brainchild has the makings of a great addition to the Beehive State's festival scene.
And wisely placing it in the spring, rather than during the summer months, ensures that it won't have to compete for an audience with the already established festivals in Salt Lake City and Park City/Deer Valley.
This year's Bonneville Chamber Music Festival roster included renowned Russian-born violinist Dmitri Berlinsky, who was last seen locally a few years ago soloing with the Utah Symphony.
Joining Berlinsky for the final concert were Uzur, pianist Evgeny Rivkin, violinist Carmelo de los Santos and violist Spencer Martin. They joined forces for the final piece on the program, Brahms' Piano Quintet in F minor, op. 34, one of the composer's most captivating chamber works.
The five exhibited outstanding ensemble play in an impassioned reading that captured the intensity of emotions and dramatic force. Their playing was bold, energetic and powerful. Yet they also brought a poignancy, refined elegance and exquisite lyricism to their interpretation, which culminated in a gorgeously played slow movement. This was chamber music of the highest order.
Also on the program was a mesmerizing account of Ravel's jazzy and seldom played Violin Sonata, performed with virtuosic flair by Berlinsky and Rivkin.
Rivkin, who had a busy night, opened Saturday's concert with Beethoven's Cello Sonata in A major, op. 69, partnered by Uzur. The two acquitted themselves wonderfully, bringing out the lyricism of the work with their expressive playing.
While Saturday's concert was, without question, the high point of the festival, there were quite a few other noteworthy performances.
Wednesday's concert featured two insightful and perceptive readings Debussy's Sonata in G minor for Violin and Piano and Ravel's Piano Trio in A minor. WSU faculty member Shi-Hwa Wang, violin, and guest pianist Veda Zuponcic gave a nuanced and exquisitely crafted account of the Debussy. Their dynamic collaboration captured the intense expressiveness of the work with lyrically phrased beauty.
The Piano Trio is perhaps one of Ravel's most expressive works, gorgeous in its lyricism and effusive in its impressionist language. Zuponcic, de los Santos and Uzur gave a masterful reading that captured all of the nuances and subtleties of the score with seamless articulation.
The most unconventional concert took place Friday. With a program ranging from Schubert's "Trout" Quintet, D. 667, to jazz, Eastern European folk music and Led Zeppelin, Uzur needs to be commended for going outside the box and giving his audience something different.Next year's festival is set for April 13-18, and anyone who loves chamber music should give it a try.