The theme of this weekend's Utah Symphony concerts is "pieces you don't hear every week." The most familiar work on the program, Rimsky-Korsakov's "Russian Easter Overture," hasn't been heard in Abravanel Hall since 1996, according to program notes. Guest conductor Andrey Boreyko and the orchestra made a sound case for all three works on Friday.
First up was Olivier Messiaen's "The Ascension," the devoutly Catholic French composer's interpretation of Christ's ascension into heaven 40 days after the resurrection. Messiaen was one of history's best-known synesthetes, and not only was he able to hear colors, his imaginative and vivid compositions could make listeners swear they could hear the colors as well. The four-movement "Ascension" invited Friday's audience to a place of contemplation, reverence and even awe. The Utah Symphony's trumpet and woodwind players gave especially memorable performances.
The "Russian Easter Overture," likewise, was a colorfully evocative and seasonally appropriate selection. Boreyko was generous in acknowledging individual performances; trombonist Mark Davidson was among the standouts.