Fort Worth — Patrons of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra on Sunday afternoon at Bass Performance Hall were treated to an impressive display of orchestral color and large scale concept which made for an easily enjoyable listen. Guest conductor Eugene Tzigane led in a group of pieces which demand the utmost attention to the finer details of balance and dynamic.
Maurice Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin was initially composed as a suite for piano solo. In this original version, six movements require a huge amount of imagination from the pianist to evoke orchestral colors from the piano. The four movements which Ravel himself orchestrated just a few years after reveal clearly the sonic intentions of the work. All the various timbres of the orchestra are treated almost like chamber music. Configurations of woodwinds, brass, and strings compel the listener to engage in this world. When done poorly, it is a dreadful work to set through. Fortunately, Tzigane and the FWSO were in complete control and in very fine form. Every nuance was so skillfully curated that the work was fresh and real delight for the listener. This was one of those times that a person could wish that the work was longer.
The momentum continued in Korngold’s quite romantic Violin Concerto. Composed in 1945, the premiere was given by none other Jascha Heifetz. This work is again a piece full of virtuosic writing not only for the solo violin but for the orchestra itself. In terms of ensemble, violinist Stefan Jackiw was perfectly in step with Tzigane and the orchestra. His remarkable facility and clarity was never overwhelmed by the considerable difficulties of the work. The overall concept was one of clear purpose and direction. Rather than dwelling on places where a more romantic approach would have stalled out, we heard a cohesiveness which carried the work forward. If one were to offer a single complaint, it would be that Jackiw’s sound tended to be a bit on the cutting side; just a couple important areas, especially in the Poco adagio movement, could have been enhanced by moving to a warmer sound.
The second half of the concert was devoted to Dvořák’s mighty Symphony No.7 in D minor, Op.70. This was the third work in the program in which a careful consideration toward orchestral balance and timbre shaping was an absolute must. Although nearly forty minutes in length, the work hardly seemed longer than a couple minutes. This was because of yet more attention to the sound and using it to tell a story. Staging important moments in the music and planning the sound not just within movements but through the piece as a whole is not an easy feat. With the help of Tzigane’s leadership, we were able to enjoy a communicative and thoroughly convincing account of the work.
For this concert, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra was firing on all cylinders. A performance such as this is by itself a significant reason for Fort Worth to take pride in an ensemble which continues to make substantial strides forward.