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Van Zweden's Return Produces Musical High Point


by Olin Chism 27 Jan 2012

With 11 months still to go, Thursday night’s concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is easily in the running for one of the year’s best.
The program included two masterpieces — Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 — and two musical stars — principal clarinetist Gregory Raden and conductor Jaap van Zweden.

CTA TBD

With 11 months still to go, Thursday night’s concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is easily in the running for one of the year’s best.

The program included two masterpieces — Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 — and two musical stars — DSO principal clarinetist Gregory Raden and music director Jaap van Zweden.

There was no doubt that Raden would perform impressively in the Mozart concerto. His solo turns within the orchestra — and there are many — are always first-rate. Anticipation was affirmed in his graceful, flawless interpretation of the greatest of all clarinet concertos.

Van Zweden kept the orchestra down to an appropriately modest size and was on the same wavelength as Raden in matters of interpretation.

The concerto, from near the end of Mozart’s life, is a miracle of inspiration on a par with his greatest piano concertos. The two joyful outer movements are separated by what seems to me to be a deeply sad adagio. Raden and Van Zweden explored its emotional depths beautifully.

Van Zweden was back in action after a period on the road. He came back with a significant honor: Musical America’s “Conductor of the Year” award. In a brief ceremony before the music-making, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings presented him with a proclamation and the audience gave him a preconcert ovation. Van Zweden responded by emphasizing the teamwork between the orchestra and him that led to the award.

His interpretation of Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 was a good demonstration of why he won the award. The orchestra was up to full size, and the many convincing details of interpretation combined with superb playing by the orchestra and its soloists made the performance a deeply engrossing one.

It was also a demonstration that the most thrilling performances are almost always live ones rather than those recorded. The immediacy of the experience makes a big difference.

Thursday night’s audience was bigger than usual and seemed more energized. Van Zweden is definitely a drawing card.

The program will be repeated in the Meyerson Symphony Center tonight, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

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