Risky outing rewarding for DSO concertgoers
Thursday night's howling blizzard (Dallas style) had the predictable effect on the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's concert: What was probably the smallest audience of the season was sprinkled around the music room of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
Too bad, because the program brought a return visit of one of today's most distinguished artists of the piano and presented what was apparently the Dallas premiere of a legendary work of Richard Strauss. Also making his first Dallas appearance was an impressive guest conductor from Germany.
The pianist was the Czech Ivan Moravec, who first appeared here around 30 years ago and on several occasions has reconfirmed the initial impression that he is a master of the old Middle European School, more interested in art than virtuosity.
His performance of Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto was free of mannerisms, either musical or physical. Minus grimace or gesture, he gave a lyrical account of one of the composer's loveliest works. The famous slow movement contest of moods between the piano and the orchestra worked well, and Mr. Moravec brought a lighthearted touch to the finale.
The one negative was a first-movement cadenza that seemed strangely out of character with the rest of the music. It was, believe it or not, by Beethoven - an alternative to the cadenza usually heard.
The DSO was in good form, as it was with the concert-opener, Weber's Overture to Der Freischutz. Both here and in the Beethoven, conductor Christof Perick seemed to share Mr. Moravec's musical aesthetic. He achieved a sense of both momentum and nobility in Weber's thrilling score through moderate tempos and some telling pauses.
Of considerable help was some first-rate brass playing, particularly in the horns.
Alas, because of an advanced deadline (that blizzard again), I had to miss the largest work of the evening, Strauss' Sinfonia Domestica. Fortunately, there are three more opportunities to hear it this weekend.