Traditional wisdom holds that it takes two to tango.
But the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s weekend of concerts titled “Let’s Tango!” which opened Friday at Bass Hall, emphatically makes the case that the passionate Latin dance form is even better when several dozen talented musicians and dancers take up the cause.
Under the rhythmic baton of guest conductor Jeff Tyzik, the orchestra blazed and glided through a generous slate of tangos with the help of a quartet of impossibly limber dancers, a golden-throated soprano and a virtuoso of the bandoneon (an accordionlike instrument that often gives a tango its distinctive personality).
The setup for this pops series concert was a bit different from the norm. The orchestra was moved back several feet to allow space for the dancers, who enhanced most of the numbers with supple and fluid moves that were as sexy as they were technically exact.
The program was dominated by Astor Piazzolla, the 20th-century Argentinian composer famous for his many works in this form. His compositions were especially appealing in their structures and in the way so many of them embraced the dancers like a would-be lover.
But there were a few exceptions. One of the most notable was a composition by Tyzik, who also arranged most of the numbers by other composers on the bill. His Mallorca, inspired by a visit to that Spanish vacation spot, was a lilting, Latin-esque melody with a wonderful lead part for flute (played beautifully by Ebony Thomas) over a gentle, but consistently interesting, bed of percussion. It is a shame the piece was misidentified in the concert program.
That number, which opened the concert’s second half, was one of many highlights.
Among the most unexpected treats was the tune Celos, better known by its English title, Jealousy. Symphony concertmaster Michael Shih was featured with a lead violin part that was as flowing and dramatic as the dancing in other numbers.
Soprano Camille Zamora was there to remind us that many of these tangos have words as well as steps. Singing exclusively in Spanish, she sank deeply into every song and filled with the gap between the dancers and the orchestra with effortless elan. And she and Tyzik did a super job of introducing and explaining the music without being too chatty or disrupting the flow of the concert.
Bandoneon player Hector Del Curto was, unfortunately, too often buried in the full-bodied sound provided by the orchestra. But when he and his instrument were allowed the spotlight, they made the most of it.
The concert was also visually appealing. Zamora and the attractive dancers trotted out a number of dazzling costumes that made their excellent performances all the more appealing. And there were also some nice touches with the lighting — something that is not a typical component of a symphony performance.
So while the focus was on one particular dance form, it was a delightfully varied performance that provided many avenues of engagement. Who needs Dancing With the Stars when we have this?