At the halfway point, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Mendelssohn festival is definitely a hit. A large audience turned out in the Meyerson Center on Sunday afternoon to hear Jaap van Zweden and his colleagues work their magic with three Mendelssohn pieces.
The high point, for me, was the Scottish Symphony (No. 3), which was given a magnificent, often hair-raising performance in which the strings excelled and soloists such as principal clarinetist Gregory Raden were outstanding. As usual, Van Zweden proved to be a master musical dramatist.
The same elements produced more drama in the concert-opener, the Hebrides Overture (often called Fingal’s Cave). This rivals Mendelssohn’s overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream among the composer’s short works, though they are very different in character, of course.
Another winner was the Piano Concerto No. 1, with Alessio Bax as the soloist. This is a high-spirited work with a lovely andante surrounded by two sprightly quick movements. Bax brought plenty of personality and an impressive technique to bear throughout.