The Meaning of Everything


By: Gregory Sullivan Isaacs

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus deliver a stellar performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2

Plato once said that music gives soul to the universe and wings to the mind. That quote kept going through my awareness on Friday evening as Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony delivered a superlative performance of Mahler’s gigantic Symphony No. 2. Perhaps I was reminded of Plato because the symphony deals with nothing less than the meaning of life, the inevitability of death and the assurance of  resurrection. The DSO magnificently delivered Mahler’s message.

Van Zweden was the superb conductor that he can be and stayed out of his own way. There was none of his micromanaging to be seen, nor was he tense or overly demanding. He appeared to be calm, the controlling eye of the musical hurricane that swirled around him. He was also in complete command because it was given rather than demanded. Some tempi were unusual but made sense in context of his performance.

The audience sat in rapt attention as van Zweden led both orchestra and listener on a trip through Mahler’s mind. When it was over, the huge ovation was as much for us and our newly gained understanding of life’s big questions as it was for the performers. It was hard to believe that 90 minutes had passed.

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