Halls leads DSO in fresh and vibrant “nature” program of Vivaldi and Beethoven

While this week’s concerts of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Matthew Halls won’t win any awards for adventurous programming, Thursday night’s concert brought outstanding performances of a pair of familiar items from the classical hit parade.

The orchestra’s co-concertmaster Nathan Olson stepped into the spotlight as soloist for the opening item, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Vivaldi’s successful marriage of sturdy formal structure with vivid pictorialism has been, for more than half century or so, a bonanza for the classical recording industry, a staple of music appreciation classes, and an attractive, not-overly-demanding showpiece for violinists.

Halls led a reduced orchestra of twenty-five strings from the harpsichord, created a reading suitable for the modern concert hall but one thoroughly and appropriately informed by historical performance practice. Assertively articulated downbows and accents joined a subtly flexible, dance-like rhythmic approach to create a relentless energy.

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