With conductor Keith Lockhart gone, there has been a “rest note” for the Utah Symphony. To whom did they look to replace Lockhart’s charm and charisma? Meet Swiss native Thierry Fischer (pictured), the seventh music director in 70 years.
This flautist and composer has waved his spirited baton all over the world, most recently with the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra. Typically wearing a bow tie, he dazzles with his delicacy in leading and clarity in layering. His highly anticipated first conducting debut (and only one of ths season) showcases Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. Subsequently, he will present five masterworks next season, followed by another 12 in 2011-12.
Acclaimed as the composer’s most impressive creation, Shostakovich’s Tenth’s long first movement, longer than the next two combined, embodies the spirit of symphony—grand, yet finely detailed. Deeply imbedded in this work are allusions to the composer’s own society and love life. The second fierce movement is a rough sketch of Stalin, fitting for a symphony released soon after the dictator’s death and the Soviets’ upheaval of artistic intolerance. The third movement is based upon two encrypted modes—one representing Shostakovich, the other the woman of his heart, Elmira Nazirova. As the movement progresses, the modes begin at a distance and get closer and closer. That’s romance.
The lengthy final movement begins slowly but builds quickly to a passionate allegro. Overall, the work is vivid and full of character—an excellent piece for Fischer to launch his career with the Utah Symphony. Welcome aboard.