Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 is one of the great peaks of classical music, but opportunities to hear it live are rare — at least around here. That makes this weekend’s concerts by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra doubly desirable. Or triply, if you consider the conductor, Jaap van Zweden.
Van Zweden led a magnificent performance Thursday night in the Meyerson Symphony Center. Its impact was enhanced by acoustical adjustments: The canopy was raised about 10 feet and curtains were pulled in the reverberation chamber high up, letting the resonant hall resonate even more. The grand moments of the work, of which there are many, were spectacular (or should that be auricular?).
Van Zweden found plenty of grandeur in the symphony (the forceful scherzo pushed beyond grandeur), and the great finale was a noble statement of touching serenity.
(Van Zweden followed tradition in ending with the third movement. Bruckner wasn’t able to finish the work and there have been attempts to flesh out the sketches for his intended fourth movement, but these seem misguided. The quiet third movement seems a perfect conclusion.)
The DSO was in fine form, with some thrilling brass passages (the symphony offers a rare chance to hear Wagner tubas, which were nobly played Thursday night).
The icing on the cake at this concert was a lively account of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini before intermission. The excellent Stephen Hough was the soloist.
This is probably a program that will bring some people back for a rehearing.