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Van Zweden Produces Some Surprises in DSO Change of Pace

by Olin Chism 4 May 2012 12:54 PM

Jaap van Zweden produced some surprises Thursday night as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra went from music on a massive scale (Bruckner) to more modest masterpieces by Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Mozart.


Last week’s performances by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra were music on a massive scale. This week’s are music on a modest scale — which doesn’t mean diminished worth.

After the soaring grandeur of last week’s Bruckner, Jaap van Zweden and the orchestra turned Thursday night to less grand masterpieces by two other Austrian masters, Haydn and Mozart, and a charming work by Tchaikovsky that pays homage to music of an older era.

Throughout, the DSO was cut back in size and, for the Haydn and Mozart, vibrato was minimal, resulting in a leaner, clearer sound.

The most unusual performance was of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor. Van Zweden took it at a terrific pace — probably the fastest performance of it I’ve ever heard. Except that in the trio of the minuet he hit the brakes. Van Zweden also experimented with dynamics, swooping up and down in surprising ways.

It all made for a dramatic performance and, though often unusual, none of it seemed eccentric.

Haydn’s Oxford Symphony was also quick-paced, though not as full of conductorial surprises as the Mozart. It really was a joy to hear.

The young German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser came aboard for Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme. He proved to be a superb musician, giving a performance that was full of personality and technical derring-do.

After the Mozart symphony, which ended the scheduled program, Van Zweden and the orchestra played a rare encore. Probably few in the audience, including me, recognized it. It was a march in D by Mozart, a symphony spokesman reports.

The performance will be repeated in the Meyerson Symphony Center tonight and Saturday night, but there’ll be no Sunday repetition this time.