FORT WORTH A single concert could hardly have covered more musical ground.
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra opened its 2013-14 subscription season at Bass Hall on Friday with a concert that began in a sugar cane field in South Africa and ended on a gallows in Germany, stopping along the way to waltz in Vienna and mope over poetry in Dublin.
The concert opened with Fuquoi in the Sugar Cane — a totally obscure but extremely charming piece by early 20th-century composer Henry Lissant-Collins. The strings-driven, nine-minute work had a sweet, French Impressionist personality and painted a lovely picture of birds enjoying a cane field in Lissant-Collins’ adopted homeland.
The hands-down favorite of the evening was Richard Strauss’v Der Rosenkavalier Suite,v a collection of themes from his comic opera of 1911 that flow together without pause. The French horns seized their opportunities beautifully in the early going, and the orchestra, under the baton of musical director Miguel Harth-Bedoya, had its most impressive moments in the waltz section that dominates the piece, before the percussion section took charge in the delightfully raucous conclusion.
That success was followed by another Strauss favorite, the mischievous tone poem Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, which ends with a well-earned necktie party for its title character . The piece was nicely rendered, with the winds once again stepping to the fore. But it did not grab the audience quite as intensely as the previous Strauss piece on the bill.
The longest work of the evening was the 38-minute That the Night Come, a setting of six poems by W.B. Yeats by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, who will serve as composer-in-residence with the symphony this season. It featured Soprano Jessica Rivera v who displayed an instrument that was a complete stranger to thinness or frailty. And she gave the impression that she was doing everything she could to get inside the piece and realize the composer’s goals.
But, despite Rivera’s engaging vocalizing, boredom arrived early and stayed late in this dreary, highly modern and often edgy minimalist work.