FWSO shines in varied program

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Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

2 p.m. Sunday

Bass Hall, Fort Worth


817-665-6000; www.fwsymphony.org

Posted 7:13am on Saturday, May. 24, 2014

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is winding down its season with quite a varied program. Friday night’s concert in Bass Hall had one brand-new work, a couple of trumpet concertos (how often do you hear one, much less two, on a symphony program?) and Hector Berlioz’s musical blockbuster Symphonie Fantastique.

It made for a high-decibel evening with some lyrical statements here and there to keep the program from becoming too hyper.

The festivities began with The Vandal by FWSO composer-in-residence Donnacha Dennehy. The first version was composed in 2000, but Friday’s performance was the premiere of its latest iteration.

As the title implies, this is a wild piece with “funky” rhythms (the adjective is conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s) and clashing ideas in which chunks of dissonance are played off against somewhat more consonant sounds.

It’s hard to know on a first hearing what to make of this. Let’s just say it’s muscle music with plenty of drive. Probably the most astonishing thing about the work is the ending, which is so abrupt that the ensuing silence is almost jarring.

Dennehy was present to acknowledge a significant round of applause.

Another amazing thing about the evening was the trumpet virtuosity of Tine Thing Helseth, a Norwegian who has to be one of the world’s best on the instrument.

Her playing is rock-solid and subtle, and she has a remarkable ability to project a variety of moods. Her playing of Haydn’s E-flat concerto was a joy — the slow movement is one of Haydn’s most lyrical — and her introduction of Alexander Arutiunian’s little-known trumpet concerto was a revelation. This Armenian’s work should be better-known.

Harth-Bedoya assembled a large orchestra for the Symphonie Fantastique without achieving what Berlioz really wanted: an orchestra of 220 musicians. (Why is it that the insisters on historical practice generally want less and less but rarely more and more?)

Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra gave a grand performance with many opportunities for soloists and sections to shine. This they did consistently — a wonderful example being the magnificent English horn solo work by Jane Owen.

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