Blue Tones

The Dallas Symphony opens its pops season with a polished but familiar program of Gershwin.
by J. Robin Coffelt

Dallas — Pops concerts are designed to be crowd-pleasers, and few programs could be more crowd pleasing than an all-Gershwin program.

Such was the bill this weekend at the Dallas Symphony, for the opening of its pops subscription series. These were not the first concerts of the season: the previous weekend featured screenings of the film La La Land, with the Dallas Symphony providing the soundtrack, and on Thursday evening, they presented a run out concert in Denton with conductor Ruth Reinhardt and Dallas Symphony Associate Concertmaster Eunice Keem performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto.

Still, this is an orchestra that just weeks ago was enjoying a well-deserved summer break, and among moments of brilliance, there were some indications that all the vacation sand hasn’t quite been washed off—ensemble was not as tight as we’re used to hearing from the DSO.

Under Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, muted strings shimmered in Gershwin’s gorgeous “Lullaby,” a piece originally written for string quartet, in its small orchestra version. Likewise, the Overture to Funny Face and the Cuban Overture, with its Latin rhythms prominently showcasing the percussion section, were top-notch. Still, these are pieces that the orchestra played in an all-Gershwin program just last January. That’s quite a bit of programming overlap.

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