Van Zweden goes long and deep in final Mahler program with Dallas Symphony

Texas Classical Review

By: Wayne Lee Gay

Jaap van Zweden conducted the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 Friday night.

Jaap van Zweden’s final Mahler performances as music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra began with a fortissimo barrage from the cellos and basses to open the Symphony No. 2 Friday night at Meyerson Symphony Center.

Yet this performance—with just under three hundred instrumentalists and singers onstage—was about much more than loud and jolting symphonic thunderbolts. This became apparent when, after the dark passion of the first theme, the lyrical second theme arrived in glowing lightness from the strings; thanks to van Zweden’s flawless pacing that became the dominant focus of the movement. The clarity of the conductor’s vision of the work was particularly evident in the return of the opening theme and the sense of inevitability he communicated in the restatement with full strings.

After ten years with the Dallas Symphony, the long opening movement also demonstrated the depth of van Zweden’s understanding, of the magnificent acoustic of the Meyerson Symphony Center, and his ability to shape Mahler’s inspired sound world within it. While Dallas music lovers clearly regret his eminent departure for the New York Philharmonic, van Zweden may well, for his part, miss the superior acoustic qualities of the Meyerson that have allowed him to produce moments of magnificent subtlety and power in his interpretations of Mahler’s symphonies and other late romantic works.

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