It’s a few days late, but the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Jaap van Zweden are ringing in the new year with a salute to Old Vienna. Judging by the positive response of Thursday night’s audience in the Meyerson Symphony Center, it’s an experiment likely to be repeated next year.
The DSO was obviously inspired by the Vienna Philharmonic’s traditional New Year’s concerts when planning this weekend’s program. After one substantial piece to launch the evening, the rest of the program featured a parade of short, highly familiar works mostly by Viennese composers of Emperor Franz Josef’s day: Johann Strauss II, his brother Josef, Brahms and Suppé (when’s the last time Suppé appeared on a DSO subscription program?).
It was tuneful, toe-tapping stuff of the likes of Strauss the Second’s Die Fledermaus Overture, Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 and Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture. To add a little American flavor, there were Leroy Anderson’s The Typewriter and Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever (the third of three encores). The typist was principal percussionist Douglas Howard and his instrument was an old Royal — found, I’m told, on eBay.
The one bit of traditional symphonic fare was Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition — but in Leopold Stokowski’s orchestration, not the much-more-familiar Ravel.
This unorthodox program may have offended a symphonic traditionalist or two, but the audience clearly was on Van Zweden’s side. The concert will be repeated Friday through Sunday.