They’re not advertised as pops concerts, but this weekend’s performances by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra are certainly filled with ear-pleasing compositions.
Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Debussy’s Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun and Respighi’s Pines of Rome are all works that would rank high on most music-lovers’ list of pieces to look forward to.
With Jaap van Zweden conducting and a rejuvenated orchestra playing, that applies doubly.
The DSO is certainly no stranger to the Roman Carnival Overture, but rarely has it been presented with as much brio as it was Thursday night in the Meyerson Symphony Center. The strings were in great form, and David Matthews’ superb English horn solo was only one of the impressive turns by individual DSO musicians (this has been a great couple of weeks for Matthews).
A local musician with an international reputation, SMU’s Joaquín Achúcarro, was the soloist in the Schumann concerto. As usual, he gave a vivid performance full of flowing lyricism and muscular dash, subtlety as well as strength. Van Zweden and the orchestra responded with a congenial collaboration.
The second half of the program was a study in contrasts. Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun was full of dreaminess mixed with passion, with an impressive cohesion and memorable solo passages, especially those of principal flutist Jean Garver.
On the other hand, The Pines of Rome was a cinematic depiction of Roman scenes culminating in an earsplitting conclusion that — aided by the Meyerson’s acoustics — may have pushed the hall to its decibel limits. It certainly was exciting, and the audience responded accordingly.
This was the beginning of the orchestra’s regular season. There will be repetitions of Thursday’s concert on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon before the orchestra moves on to Philip Glass and more crowd-pleasers next week.