Van Zweden Leads Another Riveting Dallas Symphony Concert

by Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News

I’m not alone in wishing the Dallas Symphony Orchestra wouldn’t schedule concerts over major religious holidays–not least because they keep orchestra musicians from observations. But Holy Week didn’t seem to dampen ticket demand this week, to the extent that–despite scatterings of empty seats Friday night–the cheapest ticket prices were jacked up to three figures.

That said, Friday’s riveting performances were reminders, as if we needed them, how much we’ll miss music director Jaap van Zweden when he moves to the New York Philharmonic in two years. 

Most amazing of all may have been the Beethoven Fifth Symphony, overexposed around here, but on this occasion as fresh, challenging and frankly wonderful as if brand-new. Beyond the sheer electricity, definitely high-voltage, I marveled at van Zweden’s feeling for the music’s architecture. One sensed the strength of the pilings, the calculated strains of the cantilevers, the transitions from one musical space and texture to another.

Violins took on apt graininess when it made sense, but violas and cellos entered the second movement with velvety loveliness. Solo wind contributions were elegantly shaped and finished, but horns whipped up aptly outdoorsy sounds in the finale.

If tempos seemed brisker than your grandfather’s Beethoven Fifth, they were. They were also pretty much on the composer’s oft-ignored metronome markings, giving the music the restless, even nervous, energy that seems quintessentially Beethovenian. Even the rests came alive in the Meyerson Symphony Center’s acoustics...

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