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North Texas Musicians In New York Pages
by Jerome Weeks 21 Nov 2016

Dallas Symphony maestro Jaap van Zweden’s first appearance with the NY Philharharmonic gets reviewed and so does a new biography of Van Cliburn.

CTA TBD

In addition to that truly-frightening-if-you-hadn’t-heard-it-already front page story in ‘The New York Times’ about Dallas’ possible bankruptcy because of the Fire and Police Pension System — the folks who brought us Museum Tower — there were some items about local classical music celebs worth noting.

The first were all the reviews of Dallas Symphony music director Jaap van Zweden’s first performance with the New York Philharmonic since the announcement in January that he would take the reins of the venerable orchestra in the 2018-’19 season. Once past the by-now-standard swipe at van Zweden’s supposed lack of support for new music, the reviews were generally very positive, often noting that the program seemed designed to show his range — from a major premiere by the 28-year-old composer Julia Adolphe to one of van Zweden’s traditional hit-it-out-of-the-ballpark Romantic classics, Tchaikovsky’s Fourth. Anthony Tommasini in the NYTimes delivered perhaps the most carefully measured review but even he conceded van Zweden’s strengths:

Mr. van Zweden, 55, has developed a reputation for giving exacting and feisty performances. Not surprisingly, those qualities bristled throughout the brawny, intense account he led of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. At times, especially during his hard-driving reading of the finale, Mr. van Zweden pushed the symphony to unpleasant extremes of tempo and sound. Yet it was certainly exciting.”

But a favorite paragraph from all the coverage came from Vulture, New York magazine’s culture section:

Jaap van Zweden, a Dutch maestro with a silhouette like a hip flask and a musketeer’s way with a baton, is making his first appearances with the New York Philharmonic since he was chosen to succeed Alan Gilbert as music director. He won’t officially take the post for nearly two years, but his high-speed performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony suggested he would love to hurry that date along. A superb technician with crystalline intentions, van Zweden seemed most at home laying down a covering barrage of brass or catapulting into a big crescendo. But the New York premiere of Julia Adolphe’s viola concerto Unearth, Release also proved that he’s no slouch with a glimmering pianissimo or a complex new score.

And then there was ‘The New Yorker’s” Briefly Noted column, which included a short review of ‘Moscow Nights,’ the new biography of the late Van Cliburn by Nigel Cliff. The anonymous review notes that Cliff “sympathetically” tracks Cliburn’s stunning victory at the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 to his later artistic decline.

One amusing note: If you follow that Amazon link, you’ll discover that ‘Moscow Nights’ is now listed by Amazon as a ‘number one best seller.’ A biography of Van Cliburn?!

If you check a little further, you discover that it’s the top seller among “Moscow Travel Guides.”

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