FORT WORTH - In
a surprise move, the Fort Worth Symphony began its Concerts in the
Garden series in the Botanic Garden on Thursday night without a bang.
Their Too Hot to Handel program offered a traditional series opener -- the Music for the Royal Fireworks,
which was first presented by that German composer for the British
royalty in 1749. But unlike previous years, the work was placed at the
top of the bill -- without the fireworks. That may sound a bit like
doing a trumpet concerto without a trumpet, but the idea was to give
the audience a chance to appreciate the work without the distraction of
an exploding sky over it.
The orchestra's crisply stated performance of this Baroque gem, led
by the symphony's music director, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, did just that.
And, lest anyone feel cheated, the work was reprised at the end of the
concert with a shower of fireworks flashy enough to satisfy any fan of
the pyrotechnic arts and loud enough to set off car alarms all around
the storm-ravaged garden. It was a clever programming ploy that worked
And the rest of the program was so good that no one seemed to mind that the orchestra slipped in a couple of commercials.
Pianist Michael Hawley, co-winner of the 2002 Van Cliburn
International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, was featured
in a performance of Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2. And, gee, the 2004
amateur competition just happens to be under way at TCU. What a
But while Hawley, a director of special projects at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology in his day job, may have
distinguished himself as an amateur, he sounded like a pro Thursday
night. He gave no indication of being intimidated by either Liszt or
the idea of performing with a major orchestra. The Yale grad also
maintained his amateur status (in Fort Worth, at least) by donating his
services for this concert.
In the concert's second half, the orchestra offered a work not listed in the program, the Polonaise from Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin.
The exuberant work was offered as a bonus to remind the audience of
1,401 that the orchestra will be doing a Tchaikovsky festival at Bass
Hall in August. This trailer suggested that we should look forward to
Overall, it was a fine start to one of the best things about summer in Fort Worth.