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DSO Combines Wagner, Mozart and Debussy Harmoniously


by Olin Chism 3 Feb 2012

This weekend the Dallas Symphony Orchestra has a somewhat unusual program with what is becoming the usual result: fine music-making under the direction of Jaap van Zweden. The composers represented include Mozart, Wagner (the unusual one) and Debussy.

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This weekend the Dallas Symphony Orchestra has a somewhat unusual program (unusual for the DSO, that is) with what is becoming the usual result: fine music-making under the direction of Jaap van Zweden.

The composers represented include Mozart, Wagner (who once said some disrespectful things about Mozart) and Debussy (who once said some disrespectful things about Wagner). Whatever the feelings of each for his predecessor, on the Meyerson Symphony Center stage Thursday night, all was harmony.

The unusual thing was the inclusion of not just one, but two works by Wagner. True, Wagner was primarily an opera composer, but there’s a lot that can be extracted from his works for concert presentation, and we haven’t been exposed to a lot of that in Dallas.

What Van Zweden and the DSO played was Siegfried Idyll and the “Good Friday Spell” from Parsifal. In each the conductor’s interpretation was subtle, expressive and occasionally dramatic (Siegfried Idyll is a mellow work throughout) and the orchestra’s playing, both among principals and the whole, was exceptional.

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor brought onstage the young French pianist David Fray, whose slightly eccentric demeanor was belied by an elegant performance that seemed a bit understated at times but had its share of drama. Van Zweden and his orchestra seemed stylistically in sync with Fray.

Rounding out the evening was a highly atmospheric performance of Debussy’s La Mer, another impressive display of skill within sections and polish overall.

The program will be repeated tonight, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

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