This weekend’s concerts by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra spotlight a guest conductor and a key member of the orchestra. On Thursday night they produced one of the more pleasing programs of the season.
Conductor James Gaffigan, a young American, and concertmaster Emanuel Borok teamed for Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, one of the composer’s most lyrical musical statements. The sweet tone of Borok’s violin has often been evident at DSO concerts and was very much a factor in the success of this performance of Beethoven’s lovely masterpiece. Gaffigan and the orchestra gave Borok graceful support and some gentle drama when needed. It was a performance that lingered long in the memory.
A piece of a very different sort is Shostakovich’s First Symphony, which Gaffigan and the orchestra presented before intermission. This is a work of great originality, often frisky but with a foretaste, in the slow movement, of the gloominess that was so characteristic of much of the composer’s later work.
Gaffigan made it sparkle with life, and the solo work of many of the orchestra’s principal players was a great dividend.
A performance of Mussorgsky’s prelude to Khovanshchina established an evocative Russian atmosphere to set the stage for the Shostakovich.
The program will be repeated Friday, Saturday and Sunday.