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Old and New Generate Interest in Fort Worth


by Olin Chism 9 Oct 2009

Something old and something new added up to a consistently pleasing program by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra on Friday night. The new was Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto 4-3, which juxtaposes three string instruments and symphony orchestra. The soloists were Zachary De Pue and Nicolas Kendall, violins, and Ranaan Meyer, double bass. Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducted. The […]

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Something old and something new added up to a consistently pleasing program by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra on Friday night.

The new was Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto 4-3, which juxtaposes three string instruments and symphony orchestra. The soloists were Zachary De Pue and Nicolas Kendall, violins, and Ranaan Meyer, double bass. Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducted.

The three-part work (the movements are titled “The Shallows,” “Little River” and “Roaring Smokies”) is inspired by the music and scenery of eastern Tennessee, Higdon says. She grew up there. The music is tonal and in the classical tradition, but it is distinctly American in flavor, with a salute to bluegrass and other styles.

The soloists, who call themselves “Time for Three,” played the virtuosic work with great élan and an endearing sense of informality. Their instruments were amplified, which traditionalists might have found objectionable in other circumstances but seemed in the spirit of this piece (the bass really boomed in one solo episode). They played the half-hour-plus work from memory.

The concerto consists of two highly energetic outer movements flanking a songful centerpiece. It generated a lot of excitement, and despite its substantial length it sustained interest.

The Bass Hall audience was unusually responsive, and Higdon and her fellow musicians took several bows.

For the second half of the program, Harth-Bedoya led the orchestra through a hyperfamiliar work, Dvorak’s New World Symphony. It was a solid performance with some fine solo playing. The horns were outstanding.

The program will be repeated on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Another Higdon work, the intriguingly titled Machine, will be added (Friday’s concert was the traditional short-form edition).

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