It’s not true that golden ages existed only in the past. We’re in the middle of one now. This one involves the violin. As any obsessive concert-goer knows, there’s a large crop of superb young violinists making the rounds these days.
Two of them made stops in Fort Worth recently. In late March, the Cliburn organization presented Hilary Hahn in a program that just about filled Bass Hall. Then, on Friday night, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra was joined by Alexandra Soumm, an artist new to me but mightily impressive.
Soumm, who was born in Russia but lives in France, joined the orchestra under Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s direction for a performance of Sibelius’ violin concerto, which is a strong candidate for the greatest violin concerto ever.
Soumm demonstrated the technical mastery expected nowadays, but combined that with a strong lyrical and dramatic sense. With powerful assistance from Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra, she gave a masterful presentation.
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What made it doubly impressive was that she was sick enough to have skipped a rehearsal and even considered canceling Friday’s appearance. You couldn’t tell any of this when the concert moved impressively forward.
The concert opened with a contemporary work by Adam Schoenberg, “La Luna Azul” (“The Blue Moon”). The composer, an American who is not related to the other Schoenberg, was present for the performance.
“La Luna Azul” turned out to be a hypnotic work for a large orchestra. The moods are varied. Some of it is reminiscent of the music of Benjamin Britten’s “Sea Interludes,” though its Latin rhythms argue against that interpretation. It begins and ends quietly, and consistently holds interest.
Friday’s concert (repeated Saturday and Sunday) ended with music from Prokofiev’s ballet “Cinderella.” This suite, arranged by Harth-Bedoya, seemed well-rehearsed.
The work is quite long — there are 13 segments, each identified by a title though not always easily recognized by hearing alone. This raises the question: Why not accompany each segment with the overhead projection of its title? Similar works (“The Rite of Spring” comes to mind) would benefit from such a practice.