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Guests, masters star in Fort Worth Symphony concerts

Posted 11:17pm on Friday, Oct. 26, 2012

This weekend’s concerts by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra are a time for masterpieces and guests.

The masterpieces are two great works by Beethoven and Bartok preceded by one of Dvorak’s most appealing short pieces. The guests are conductor Larry Rachleff and violinist Karen Gomyo.

Friday night’s concert in Bass Hall got off to a brisk start with a highly energetic performance of Dvorak’s Carnival Overture.

The orchestra as a whole was in fine form and there was some excellent solo work for English horn (Rogene Russell, I presume), flute (Jan Crisanti) and oboe (Jennifer Lucio), among others.

Gomyo was introduced with just about as major a work for her instrument as you can get, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. This is one of the composer’s most genial compositions, filled with melodic grace and power that doesn’t cost it its basically lyrical impulse. It doesn’t hurt that the final movement contains what is arguably Beethoven’s most beautiful melody.

Gomyo is a jewel of a performer, with an impressive lyrical gift and solid intonation. With Rachleff as an able collaborator, she gave a major performance of a major work. Worthy of mention is the remarkable playing of the bassoons (Kevin Hall and Cara Owens), who are given substantial partnering roles by Beethoven.

Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra rounded out the program. Bartok seems to scare some people (maybe it’s his name), but this is a thoroughly appealing work that is full of musical delights.

Rachleff captained a lively, three-dimensional performance that held keen interest through the first three movements (deadline demands pushed me out of the hall before the final two).

The work is a showcase for orchestra, and the Fort Worth Symphony passed the test impressively. All sections get time in the spotlight, with the horns and woodwinds especially remarkable.

Bass Hall was considerably less than full for Friday night’s concert. Even Beethoven couldn’t pull them in for this one. Maybe that’ll change for Saturday night’s and Sunday afternoon’s repetitions.

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