The energy quotient was exceptionally high at Friday night’s concert of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. A new piece from Colombia tested the sonic limits of Bass Hall, there were thunderous peals generated by Saint-Saëns’ “Organ Symphony,” and even the relatively more restrained Dvorak cello concerto was not lacking in forceful fortissimos.
The new composition was by young Colombian composer Victor Agudelo, who was present for the premiere performance of “La Madre de Agua,” a new orchestration of a 2005 work.
It’s hard to know what to make of “La Madre de Agua” (“The Mother of Water” in English). According to the program notes, it’s inspired by a Colombian myth about an aquatic divinity who roams the earth’s rivers searching for her murdered lover and their son. One interesting feature is that her feet are turned backward, so that anyone tracking her would be misled by her footprints into going the wrong way.
The work is brightly orchestrated, with effective employment of percussion and brass instruments and even rugged string sounds. It’s a hopeless task to try to match what the audience is hearing with any particular part of the tale, though there was one spooky episode that seemed right for a story about murder and the supernatural.
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Maybe repeated hearings would bring clarity.
Saint-Saëns’ “Organ Symphony” is a highly theatrical work given a highly theatrical performance by conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the Fort Worth Symphony. The organist was H. Joseph Butler of the TCU faculty. The organist sits quietly during most of the work’s duration, but when he finally enters, brace yourself!
This work is not one of the greatest symphonic masterpieces, but Saint-Saëns had a real gift for appealing melodies and telling harmonies, and this one will have you humming for awhile afterward.
Overall, the most successful performance of a successful evening was that of Dvorak’s cello concerto. The soloist was Johannes Moser, a German-Canadian cellist remarkable for his precision, lyric gift and dramatic flair. A topnotch collaboration by Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra helped make this a winner.
Incidentally, there was a significant tightening of security for Friday night’s performance (with repetitions on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon). There were more security personnel than usual, with bag checks and leaflets detailing forbidden items and those requiring inspection, without explanation to the audience.
There were no apparent incidents, however.
The concert repeats 2 p.m. Sunday; more information and tickets at www.fwsymphony.org.