All didn’t go according to plan when the Dallas Symphony Orchestra opened its new season Thursday night. But some quick reshuffling of the schedule produced a success anyway.
The problem arose when Jeffrey Kahane, who was to have played Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, showed up for rehearsal but didn’t get far before becoming ill. When he decided he couldn’t go on, and no replacement could be found on very short notice, conductor Jaap van Zweden dropped the Fourth and substituted Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
The Fourth Concerto is a lovely work and Kahane is a sensitive musician, so more than a few people were looking forward to his performance. But how can anyone but the most jaded listener complain about the Fifth Symphony?
Van Zweden and the orchestra gave it a taut performance, with some interesting details of interpretation, some beautiful solos and sectional work, and no sense that this was something put together in a hurry.
Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, which was the other work of the evening, went ahead as planned. If Van Zweden didn’t quite make it seem fresh once more, he gave it a dramatic performance (including a hair-raising finale) and the orchestra once more was in top form.
There are some personnel changes this season. Most notably, concertmaster Emanuel Borok has retired and his place will be filled by a series of guests (there will be auditions for the position in November). Taking this key position this week (and several times later in the season) is Yuan-Qing Yu, assistant concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is a graduate of Southern Methodist University, incidentally.
Other prominent members of the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra and the Indiana University faculty will be filling in later.
One new member of the DSO is principal timpani Edward Stephan, who played the drums in the Eroica Symphony Thursday night, after Doug Howard did the same — admirably — for the Fifth Symphony.
Thursday’s concert (with the Fifth Symphony) will be repeated in the Meyerson Symphony Center Friday through Sunday.