A Mahler Tradition
“Performing the Mahler symphonies here in Dallas has been a beautiful journey,” said Music Director Jaap van Zweden. Throughout his ten-year tenure, van Zweden has led the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in many performances of Mahler’s symphonic works. These beautiful symphonies have defined many of his key achievements with the DSO.
“It’s hard to imagine any orchestra or conductor cranking up a more electrifying Mahler Fifth Symphony than the one that virtually exploded Wednesday evening at the Meyerson Symphony Center,” wrote Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News of van Zweden’s first concert as Music Director in 2008. The daring Dutchman made a strong impression from that very first downbeat. From the monumental trumpet intro to the sweeping sonorities throughout, van Zweden set the stage for a transformative tenure. The DSO returned to Mahler’s Fifth at the beginning of the current season, bringing his Music Directorship full circle.
Mahler’s Sixth Symphony was the cornerstone of the 2013 European tour. Van Zweden and the DSO took the epic work to Eindhoven, Amsterdam, Vienna and Hamburg. Critics were impressed with the Texas orchestra, and De Standaard of Amsterdam declared, “…the Sixth Symphony of Mahler thrilled the audience and shook the Concertgebouw to its foundations.” Upon return, the DSO recorded the work for the orchestra’s own label, DSO Live.
The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival launched in 2015, and an early work of Mahler’s was a pivotal performance in the second year when van Zweden introduced Dallas audiences to the myth and legend of Mahler’s youthful Das klagende Lied. The work received its Dallas premiere on May 27, 2016. “It is a very well-known piece in The Netherlands and in Germany where there is a huge Mahler tradition. In Dallas, we have, after so many years, a very beautiful Mahler tradition, but this piece has not been played,” said van Zweden before the performance in 2016. “This work should be part of the Dallas Mahler tradition.”
As the DSO celebrates van Zweden’s Farewell Celebration Season, Mahler makes one last appearance. The Second Symphony, “Resurrection,” will be performed on February 23, 24 and 25. This hour plus-long chorus and orchestral masterwork is varied in timbre and brings the audience on a journey from life reflection to final redemption.
The Dallas Symphony’s journey with Mahler has taken the group through many milestones, but after performing the composer’s music together for ten years, does van Zweden find it easier?
“You would think it would be easier, or maybe more comfortable, working together on Mahler and performing some of these works multiple times, but it is not,” he says. “We are always focused, and there is always more to discover every time we perform these works.”
Music Director Jaap van Zweden and Dallas Symphony Orchestra Mahler Recordings