The Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Mendelssohn experiment winds up this afternoon with music both grand and obscure. There’s been enough of the former over the past two weeks to make up for any disappointment over the latter.
Saturday night’s performance (today’s will be a repetition) included the well known Reformation Symphony, the semi well known Ruy Blas Overture (it has a reputation but is rarely performed), and the obscure Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings. All were well presented.
There have been some tremendous highs during conductor Jaap van Zweden’s traversal of Mendelssohn’s five “big” symphonies and assorted other works. Those highs certainly included the Reformation and Ruy Blas on Saturday. As usual, Van Zweden proved to be a subtle dramatist and master musical commander, and the orchestra responded with major-league sounds. The DSO’s strings have never sounded better.
Despite excellent performances by violinist Soovin Kim, pianist Jorge Federico Osorio and the orchestra, the concerto was a bit of a letdown. It has some nice ideas and a lovely adagio, but it rambles on too long and gives the impression of being something by a gifted kid in his early teens still lacking a fully developed sense of musical taste — which in fact was the case.
Looking back over the four programs (each repeated once), among the highlights for me were the Scottish Symphony (wow!), the Reformation Symphony, the Hebrides and Ruy Blas overtures, and the Symphony No. 1.
Disappointing was the Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings.
Somewhere in the middle were the piano concerto, the violin concerto, the Lobgesang Symphony and the Italian Symphony (I’m probably alone on this; everybody else seemed to love the Italian).
Missing was the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Maybe Van Zweden figured that it’s done often enough elsewhere.
There certainly was no lack of enthusiasm throughout the festival. Van Zweden tends to get thunderous greetings from the DSO’s audiences.