Due in part to all of the local youngsters who got bused to Bass Performance Hall, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra's Friday night concert drew a substantially larger crowd than usual. The neighborhood got decked with Christmas trees, poinsettias, and wreaths.
Under the guidance of guest conductor Carlo Montanaro, the FWSO presented Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Mendelssohn's E minor Violin Concerto, and Brahms' First Symphony, among other works. The challenge with such a well-worn repertory is to play it in a way that appears modern without resorting to fiction. At least on Friday, the findings were mixed.
In the Mendelssohn concerto, he chose an appropriately romantic style, frequently pressing forward or extending the pace for dramatic effect. His voice was rough on the bottom end and sweet and scorching on the upper hand. The goal and direction of virtuosic passagework were clear. His vibrato was occasionally excessive, in my opinion.
In the sections, the orchestra mostly kept up with Hadelich, albeit the winds were occasionally out of rhythm.
As an encore, Hadelich sang Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson's Louisiana Blues Strut, a happy showpiece with jazz and folk undertones.
Montanaro's performance of Claude Debussy's Prelude, one of the most works in the classical repertoire, was dull. There were also beautiful moments. That is when the winds blew long lyrical melodies over hammering string rhythms.
The music demanded a lot more form and movement. Instead of offering emotive instruction, Montanaro frequently merely beat time. Secondary concepts buried lines, and balances got mishandled.