This season has seen the Dallas Symphony use the national and even international luster it’s gained through music director Jaap van Zweden to promote its concerts — by promoting the conductor. In its series of YouTube videos, The Maestro’s Choice, the DSO has employed Jaap as pitchman and guide in what amount to “illustrated program notes.” The best of the bunch so far have gone beyond the usual background of a composer or individual work to have van Zweden discuss his feelings about Dallas for the DSO’s JFK memorial concert, the technical and musical challenges of Brahms’ Violin Concerto and why Mahler’s Fourth Symphony has special meanings for him.
In the latest video (above), the maestro discusses Anton Dvorak’s New World Symphony, which the DSO plays Jan. 16-18 at the Meyerson. This one is more conventional than the previous videos, with Jaap sticking to the kind of info one can find in a typical program or liner note. Too bad because just when Jaap makes an interesting point — how Dvorak combines African-American and Bohemian sounds — he doesn’t turn to the score, as we might expect, but moves on to how the orchestra needs to be tight and prepared so it can improvise comfortably and freely.
On the other hand, we do get to hear how the Dutch pronounce Dvorak. You probably don’t want to attempt it. Because: tongue sprain. And flying spittle.