UTAH SYMPHONY, Abravanel Hall, Nov. 15; second performance Nov. 16, 8 p.m., tickets at 801-355-2787, 888-451-2787 or www.utahsymphony.org

Pianist Ronald Brautigam is one of today’s most important interpreters of Beethoven’s music. In addition to his busy concert schedule he’s undertaken a multi-year project of recording all of Beethoven’s works for piano. So far he’s released the five concertos, most of the sonatas and also various other, shorter, pieces, including the works that Beethoven never allowed to be published in his lifetime. He is unquestionably an undisputed authority on the great German composer.

This weekend, Brautigam is back with the Utah Symphony, this time playing Beethoven’s Third Concerto.

In a remarkably intuitive collaboration with the orchestra and Thierry Fischer, Brautigam gave a spectacularly lucid and dynamic account of the work. His playing was infused with beautifully crafted expressions and fluid lyricism.

The same was also true for the manner in which the orchestra played. Fischer elicited clean lines and articulate expression that complemented what Brautigam was doing at the piano. It was a performance that raised the bar on how to interpret Beethoven.

The same high caliber of playing was also present in Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia espansiva. A work built on a grand scale, it is bold, uncompromising and intense. Fischer conducted it with sweeping gestures that underscored its vastness. His interpretation was nuanced to the extreme and brought depth to the music. It was subtle, daring and evocative.

The orchestra played magnificently, giving Fischer what he wanted. And the two soloists, soprano Melissa Heath and baritone Shea Owens, who make a brief appearance in the Andante pastorale singing a vocalise, were also top notch. This was Nielsen being given his due and showed that Fischer was on the right track to program the composer’s six symphonies this season.

The program also included Haydn’s Symphony No. 4 and Mozart’s overture to Die Zauberflöte, both of which were played with crisp articulation and clean execution.

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About Edward Reichel

Edward Reichel, author, writer and composer, has been covering the classical music scene in Utah since 1997. For many years he served as the primary music critic for the Deseret News. He has also written for a number of publications, including Chamber Music Magazine, OPERA Magazine, 15 Bytes, Park City Magazine and Salt Lake Magazine. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He can be reached at ed.reichel@gmail.com. Reichel Recommends is also on Twitter @ReichelArts.

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