Dallas Symphony scores with a night of organ music

Texas Classical Review
by: Wayne Lee Gay

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, with guest conductor Jun Märkl and guest organist Vincent Dubois, presented an intriguingly devised program Thursday evening at Meyerson Symphony Center.

Obviously, there was a strong “organ” theme to the evening, including Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and Saint-Saëns’ “Organ” Symphony No. 3, as part of the year-long celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 4,535-pipe Lay Family organ. Not so obviously, Messiaen’s L’Ascension provided a purely orchestral work heavily influenced by organ sonorities (and eventually retooled by the composer for organ solo) to likewise contribute to the concert’s organ focus.

Equally obviously, the program presented an all-French agenda—but one that leapfrogged the usually inevitable impressionist presence. Debussy and Ravel are, of course, near the center of the symphonic repertoire and very dear to the hearts of ticket-buyers, but this concert refreshingly reminded that there’s more to French music.

While the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony represented the massive French romanticism that preceded impressionism, the works of Messiaen and Poulenc, composed at virtually the same moment as each other in the same city (Paris in the 1930s), might as well have been created in different universes. The wide array of styles and philosophies represented in these three works underlined the constant creativity and diversity of French music through the centuries, as well as many of the characteristics that distinguish it from the central European musical dynasty to the east.

Read full review