Vivid, brilliant performances of Vivaldi and Beethoven from Olson, Halls and the DSO

Dallas Morning News
By: Scott Cantrell

I'll admit it. As a veteran of too many performances of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, I wasn't excited about a concert comprising only those two pieces. That, of course, is a minority experience and opinion, and it was good to see the Meyerson Symphony Center filled for precisely that pairing Thursday night. Before the concert began, I was told the program already had set a DSO revenue record.

That a wonderful experience lay ahead was evident from practically the first notes. In fact, DSO co-concertmaster Nathan Olson dispatched the Vivaldi with dazzling brilliance and elegant nuance. The 30-something British conductor Matthew Halls led fresh, caringly detailed performances of both works.

It made sense, of course, to pair these two pieces of program music, one baroque, one classical, each illustrating changing weather and associated feelings. Each at various times evokes a murmuring brook, bird calls, a thunderstorm and peasant dances.

Beethoven's Sixth Symphony seems to transpire wholly in the spring, while Vivaldi's four violin concertos cycle through the four seasons, starting with spring. In "Winter" we even get vividly portrayed shivers and slips and falls on ice. Texts associated with individual movement were printed in a program insert, but would have been even more helpful as play-by-play supertitles (which might have averted some confusion about when to applaud).

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