FORT WORTH Friday evening’s program by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra was full of spice and sugar — in that order. The spice was a work by Donnacha Dennehy, the symphony’s composer-in-residence. The sugar — by no means cloying — was two lyrical works by Prokofiev.
It was a winning evening.
Dennehy’s work is titled Crane, but there’s nothing avian about it. The word refers to the mechanisms used in the construction of tall buildings. Its chief inspiration seems to have been an Irish crane operator who told Dennehy (who’s Irish) that he found climbing up to his cabin and observing the city from on high to be a calming experience.
Dennehy’s musical crane begins with aggressive industrial sounds produced by an array of instruments. There are lots of pounding strings, twittering woodwinds and mournful brass. In this it is slightly reminiscent of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.
But as the imagined operator climbs a series of ladders up to his cabin, the music calms and finally becomes something close to peaceful.
All this was certainly unusual and attention-getting and was impressively performed by Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra. At the end of the piece, Dennehy came onstage for bows to enthusiastic applause.
The first Prokofiev was the Violin Concerto No. 2, with Anne Akiko Meyers as soloist. This is a lovely work, and Meyers played it with a sweet tone and considerable vigor when that was warranted. The first two movements are so lyrically inspired that the concerto almost seems a 19th-century composition. The work becomes tart in the final movement, and it was here that Meyers had a chance to display (impressively) some violinistic derring-do.
Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra were sympathetic partners.
The last work of the evening was Prokofiev’s final and most beautiful symphonic composition, the Symphony No. 7. For some reason, this work is rarely played, at least around here. In decades of concert-going, this is only the third time I have heard it in live performance.
Prokofiev was one of Russia’s most gifted masters of melody, and this is evident throughout the work, especially in a waltz that would have done Tchaikovsky proud. There’s excitement here and there, but basically the Symphony No. 7 is a work of lyric beauty.
Harth-Bedoya and his musical partners gave an outstanding performance, with all sections having a chance to shine in a dazzlingly orchestrated work.