Review: Fisch makes impressive debut leading Utah Symphony in a timely, resonant “Metamorphosen”
By Rick Mortensen
Making his Utah Symphony guest conductor Asher Fisch – an Israeli whose regular post is principal conductor and artistic advisor of the West Australian Orchestra – the piece packed a powerful, cathartic punch. In the opening bars, where the thematic material is first introduced, Fisch established a bold, intense presence, making the orchestra swell and recede dramatically at a moment’s notice. The conductor pulled the listeners into the piece’s vortex and did not let go, leading them through major key moments of heartbreaking sweetness, only to pull them down into a mournful abyss. The string section’s cohesion was remarkable, with beautiful solo work by concertmaster Madeleine Adkins and principal cellist Matthew Johnson.
Fisch deftly handled the [Mendelssohn “Scottish”] symphony’s many moods, with careful attention to each phrase as well as the piece’s overall architecture. The sturm und drung of the first movement seamlessly gave way to the frivolity of the Vivace before segueing into the gorgeous Adagio, the performance’s high point. The sweet, plaintive melody in the first violins and winds lay on the pizzicato of the second violins and the ostinato of the lower strings like a canoe on the glassy surface of a lake. Each of the voices was allowed to breathe as the orchestra rose to the emphatic climax and the effect was stunning.