The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra went small for its concert on Thursday night. Small, that is, in the number of musicians involved, not in the artistic weight of the program they played.
The concert, in the Piano Pavilion of the Kimbell Art Museum, was titled “An Evening With Vadym Kholodenko and Friends.” The friends were all members of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra: clarinetist Ana Victoria Luperi, cellist Allan Steele, oboist Jennifer Corning Lucio, bassoonist Kevin Hall, horn player Kelly Cornell and violinist Michael Shih.
Kholodenko got top billing because he’s the winner of the last Cliburn Competition, in which he took not only the gold but the prizes for best chamber music performance and best performance of a commissioned work.
He recently started a multiyear partnership with the FWSO, which will include, among other things, recordings of all five Prokofiev piano concertos and participation with the orchestra in a tour of Spain in 2016.
That Kholodenko would fare well in Thursday night’s chamber-music concert was virtually a foregone conclusion, given his awesome performances around here.
His partners have fewer opportunities to take the spotlight, although their solos in symphonic programs have generally been impressive. Thursday’s concert gave them more substantial spans of time.
The opener was Brahms’ Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Opus 114, a late work that was inspired by the playing of a 19th-century clarinet virtuoso. Kholodenko produced powerful sounds, especially in the final movement, but it was a true partnership, with cellist Steele and clarinetist Luperi producing subtle and lyrical sounds that blended well with Kholodenko’s approach.
For me, the two highlights of the evening came with Poulenc’s Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, with Lucio and Hall as Kholodenko’s “friends,” and Brahms’ Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano, with Cornell and Shih.
The opening of the Poulenc was sheer joy; it was hard not to laugh out loud. The final movement of the Brahms was the most powerful musical statement of the evening.
In all, a potent introduction of a potent partnership.