“Guest conductor Fawzi Haimor began his Utah Symphony debut on Friday night at Abravanel Hall with Feuertrunken (“Fire drunk”), a 2017 work described by its composer, Joshua Cerdinia, as “a loud meditation (if one can meditate loudly) on joy.”
This was an apt summary of the whole program, which also featured Stravinsky’s triumphal The Firebird Suite and Orff’s sensual secular oratorio Carmina Burana. While it was Carmina Burana that drew the near-capacity crowd and was the evening’s clear favorite, Haimor’s sense of drama and his particular gift for strong, emphatic finishes garnered standing ovations for all three works.
The third movement, “Infernal Dance of King Kastchei,”…pulsated with energy and rhythmic drive as Haimor appeared to unleash the orchestra, particularly the strings, which sawed through the furious passages with ferocious abandon.
The orchestra’s hypnotic rendition of the “Berceuse” movement included some moments of exquisite musicality, particularly in the harp and bassoon. It showcased Haimor’s sensitivity and his ability to create a defined, transparent sound, and it built seamlessly to the euphoric Finale, which Haimor drove home with aplomb.
From the opening strains of “Oh Fortuna,” [the choirs] performed as a single instrument with impeccable diction and articulation. They were also responsive to the phrasing and musical gestures from Haimor, who created a strong through line connecting the powerful opening to the moodier passages in the second and third movements.”