Fort Worth Symphony and Edo de Waart bring refinement to Rachmaninoff
FORT WORTH — A colleague recently asked me which symphony orchestra was better, Dallas or Fort Worth. Despite the DSO’s much larger budget, either orchestra can outsell the other any day.
I was still thinking about it on Friday evening, when the two orchestras presented concerts. His colleague Scott Cantrell covered the DSO, and I was at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth.
The FWSO has once again impressed me with its smoothness and sophistication, qualities that Robert Spano has brought to the orchestra since he was appointed Music Director last year. (He officially took over the job this season.)
Here, the FWSO was led by Dutch conductor Edo de Waart, in an all-Rachmaninoff program pairing a workhorse concerto with a relatively obscure symphony. Contrary to the usual performance practice, the concerto followed the symphony, after the intermission.
De Waart has an impressive resume, having served as musical director in opera companies and orchestras around the world.
Conducting from a stool, he took a polished approach to Rachmaninoff’s Third Symphony, which worked particularly well in the soft and lyrical sections. De Waart paid close attention to the nuances of the score, bringing out important details, while effectively balancing the parts. The phrasing had form and flexibility.
But I lacked a feeling of abandonment, of letting the music surge passionately, before releasing the tension. And some fast passages could have been more exciting at faster tempos.
There was a beautiful game around the orchestra. The violins produced massive walls of sound and explored a wide range of tonal colors, from silvery highs to earthy lows. The winds, meanwhile, eloquently shaped solos, showcasing their suave tones, and the brass moved between soft and rough sounds. Percussion crashed and pounded in climaxes, elsewhere offering tasteful understatements.
Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto proved less successful. Russian-American pianist Natasha Paremski took on technical challenges, including thundering octaves and swirling swirls of notes. But too much of his playing happened in the moment, with little sense of connection between passages.
Paremski seemed in his own world, rarely checking on De Waart and the orchestra, which led to problems with coordination. Based on the standing ovation that followed, however, others might have thought differently of the performance.
Rehearsals at 7:30 p.m. October 8 and 2 p.m. October 9 at Bass Performance Hall, Fourth and Commerce, Fort Worth. $26 to $99. 817-665-6000, fwsymphony.org.