Performing Arts

Fort Worth Symphony musicians ‘Press Play’ with Hall Ensemble

The Hall Ensemble
The Hall Ensemble

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s season is in abeyance right now, but that doesn’t mean its instruments are gathering dust. A lively local group of musicians, the Hall Ensemble, presented a program called “Press Play” on Monday night; all six participants were members of the orchestra.

They included concertmaster Michael Shih, violinist Izumi Lund, violist Aleksandra Holowka, cellist Karen Hall, flutist Jake Fridkis and bassoonist Kevin Hall.

Another member, associate conductor Daniel Black, was busy elsewhere, but he was represented by one of his compositions. That left TCU composition professor Till MacIvor Meyn as the sole non-FWSO participant. But even he has a connection; he’s on the symphony board.

The concert at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas started classically but then moved into unfamiliar territory.

The opener was Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D, K. 285, for flute, violin, viola and cello. This is a likable work, chipper in its two outer movements, with just a hint of melancholy in the middle. Fridkis, the Fort Worth Symphony’s principal flutist, was the dominant participant; he gave a performance impressive in its skill and personality.

Shih, Lund, Holowka and Karen Hall gave a dramatic account of the other “great composers” work, a quartet movement in C, D. 703, by Schubert. This is one more example of the many unfinished compositions by the composer, and Monday’s performance was a sad reminder that his life was a tragic one.

There were three unfamiliar works on the program. Each had something worthwhile to say.

The one work in this group by a non-living composer was Arthur Foote’s A Night Piece from 1934. All six of the evening’s performers took part in this lovely work, with Fridkis on flute and Shih on violin having prominent roles.

Two works full of personality and variety were by living composers: Black and Meyn. Black was represented by a five-part suite of music to accompany Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, and Meyn by a cute piece called Press Play. The latter is a clever tribute to the era of tape-recorded music, when the listener had to press a play button to get started.

Kevin Hall, the FWSO’s principal bassoonist, had plenty of action in Press Play, but there was something neat for everybody.