Fort Worth Symphony takes on international flare

03.06.15
Stefan Jackiw
Star-Telegram

The two young performers at the Fort Worth Symphony concert that opened on Friday evening at Bass Hall illustrate the international nature of classical music these days. The conductor, Eugene Tzigane, born in Tokyo, is the son of a Japanese mother and an American father. Violinist Stefan Jackiw was born in Boston to a Korean mother and a father from a Ukrainian family. Both are energetic, almost brash, musicians with prodigious abilities and promising careers that already take them to the major symphonies of the world.

The program opened with Maurice Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin, a multi-movement work based on Baroque dance suites that the composer orchestrated for modest forces. Tzigane was at his best here, keeping Baroque sensibilities while still allowing the music some impressionistic sweep.

After Ravel’s clean orchestration, Erich Korngold’s bloated orchestra and over-ripe late romantic harmonies was a rich dish indeed. Musical foie gras, perhaps. The composer was trying to shed his image as a film score composer, but paradoxically, used themes from his movies as the basis for the concerto. That aside, this is a wonderful piece, brimming with compositional craft and a lush romanticism that is irresistible.

Jackiw arrived here with an already illustrious reputation and a lot of expectations. From the first notes, he proved himself to be everything we expected and more. He doesn’t have a list of prizes on competitions on his resume. An Avery Fisher Career Grant is about it. His fame started at a young age with a stunning debut with the Boston Pops, making competitions superfluous.

Korngold often said that his concerto was more for a singer than virtuoso violinist and Jackiw takes him at his word. Jackiw’s clean technical prowess tosses off the very difficult virtuoso passages with flare; it is his gorgeous lyrical playing that impressed the most. His violin, made by Vincenzo Ruggieri of Cremona, Italy, in 1704, leans towards the treble sounds so the orchestra occasionally covered him on the lower strings on Friday, but Tzigane proved to be an able partner — creating the work together.

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