Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra impresses with CD of Brahms, Lutoslawski

Miguel Harth-Bedoya

Prokofiev has been much on the mind of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and its audiences because of a recording contract encompassing all five of the Russian composer’s piano concertos, with Vadym Kholodenko as the soloist.

But Prokofiev hasn’t been the only composer whose music the orchestra is putting on disc. A new CD, released on Harmonia Mundi in the midst of the Prokofiev project, includes rarities by Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski and Brahms.

Brahms? Rare? Yes. Rare because it’s Brahms as reimagined by modern-music icon Arnold Schoenberg. Brahms’ original, the Piano Quartet in G minor, is not so rare.

Music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya and his colleagues make a major impression with both pieces, especially the Lutoslawski Concerto for Orchestra, which is a workout for all of the instruments.

The concerto is a composition of great vigor and vivid contrasts. The outer movements provide high drama and opportunities for all sections of the orchestra to display their craft (the pounding rhythms of the opening bring to mind the beginning of Brahms’ first symphony, though the style is vastly different, of course). The gossamer middle movement should seduce even skeptics.

There are a few miscues, the most prominent of them being crashing cymbals it would be hard to imagine Brahms employing, but still it’s a good-natured tribute to a great man. 

Read the rest of the review here