Fort Worth — Time for Three is a crossover ensemble comprised of two violinists, Nicholas Kendall and Charles Yang, and a bassist, Ranaan Meyer, all of whom double on vocals. This weekend, with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra backing them and Associate Conductor Alejandro Gómez Guillén on the podium, they performed their blend of original tunes, covers, and mashups on a FWSO Pops program.
For the most part, this was an entertaining evening. The pre-intermission set included Ranaan Meyer’s “In the Dressing Room” for orchestra only. The FWSO cello section sounded fantastic here, though some crazy-high passages bedeviled the first violins a bit. After this overture of sorts, Time for Three was introduced. All but the last number on the first half were originals, and they aren’t really Time for Three’s strength. Playing violin and singing simultaneously is impressive (trust me on this one: it’s difficult to do), and Charles Yang in particular has a pleasant though not exceptional voice. And “Banjo Love,” the group’s homage to Béla Fleck, displayed the trio’s prodigious musicality. But these weren’t the compelling bits of the program, nor were the covers—Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is a glorious, brilliant song when Cohen performs it in his distinctive growly bass-baritone, but an instrumental version, no matter how well-played, loses its impact.
It was the mashups that showed Time for Three’s real excellence: the first combined The Verve’s (and Rolling Stones’; see here for the controversy explained) “Bitter Sweet Symphony” with some Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony. After intermission, the group’s take on Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” included riffs from, aptly, Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder as well as his Symphonies No. 3 and 1—the latter was the “Frère Jacques” theme from the third movement, which demonstrated bassist Ranaan Meyer’s warmth of sound, albeit an amplified version. These are brilliant, fun combinations. I only wish that the program had included more of these and perhaps fewer originals.
Guillén’s conducting is a dream come true for orchestral musicians—every beat clear and crisp. Given the improvisatory nature of Time for Three’s performances, he was just the right fit to keep it all together, and the orchestra responded with some excellent playing.
A fun time was had by all, though Bass Hall was far from full. Note that this season the hall continues its annoying policy of forbidding bags larger than 12”x12”x4” in the hall, and hall staff will measure your purse.