The Fort Worth and Dallas Symphony Orchestras are each playing a violin concerto, a major symphonic work and one briefer piece this weekend, but beyond that bare fact there are few similarities.
Certainly the Sibelius Violin Concerto, played on Friday night by Midori and the FWSO under Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s baton, was a far cry from the fidgety Barber concerto played by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the DSO the evening before.
From the first notes, the Sibelius was a mesmerizing experience. Midori combined extraordinary, beautifully judged subtleties with virtuosic flair that never seemed calculated for effect. It all flowed naturally, and was enhanced by superb playing by the Fort Worth Symphony.
The concerto seemed a great work of art, not a “virtuoso vehicle.” Indeed, it was convincing enough to reinforce the belief that this is the greatest violin concerto of them all.
Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra followed up with Brahms’ Symphony No. 1. As a performance, this certainly did not overshadow the Tchaikovsky Fourth that Jaap van Zweden and the DSO played on Thursday night, but the Brahms is a more interesting piece and the Fort Worth orchestra, like the Dallas, was in fine form. Noteworthy were some solos by concertmaster Michael Shih and principal horn Mark Houghton.
On Saturday and Sunday, Fort Worth will add a work by the Peruvian composer Rafael Leonardo Junchaya. It was omitted Friday because that’s the Fort Worth Symphony’s short night, aimed at getting the audience out earlier (9 p.m. it was on Friday).
By the way, noise continues to be a problem in Bass Hall. Midori’s beautiful close to the second movement of the Sibelius concerto was spoiled by a round of loud coughing.