Classical music: Guest conductor gets smartly detailed playing from FW Symphony

Marcelo Lehninger
The Dallas Morning News

Gosh, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra sounded great Saturday night.

That’s evidence, of course, of 15 years of careful cultivation by music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya. But the Italian-themed concert also betokened quite musical and detail-oriented leadership from guest conductor Marcelo Lehninger. The Brazilian native is certainly a demonstrative conductor, and gestures sometimes seemed gauged more to the audience than to the musicians, but he got excellent results.

This set the tone for the other two works on the program. Next came a piece penned around 1817, about four years after Rossini’s opera, by an Italian violinist and composer 10 years older. Naturally, Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major offered plenty of fireworks for the soloist, but also orchestral writing sharing some DNA with Rossini’s.

Caroline Goulding displayed gleaming tone and a lot of impressive virtuosity. Single lines skittered about with often dazzling facility, yet more aria-like music was spun out with a fine singer’s command of legato and contour. 

Lehninger was also a compelling interpreter of a German composer’s 1831 musical homage to Italy, Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony. The music was always going somewhere, but with great care over orchestral balances, the ups and downs of dynamics, the contours of phrases. The third movement had a waltz’s grace, the finale an outdoorsy exhilaration.

Apart from a spot or two of imperfect coordination in the busy first movement, the playing was very fine indeed. This is a conductor I’d like to see again. And let’s hope Fort Worth comes forward to support its excellent orchestra. 

Read the rest of the review here