Hadelich brings emotional intensity to Dallas Symphony’s romantic program

Fri Oct 14, 2016 at 1:05 pm
By Wayne Lee Gay
Augustin Hadelich performed Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 with Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Thursday night. Photo: Paul Glickman

Augustin Hadelich performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Thursday night. Photo: Paul Glickman

        Whether Thursday night’s concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and music director Jaap van Zweden at Myerson Symphony Center was an all-romantic concert or a simply a nearly all-romantic concert depends on one’s view of the opening work on the evening’s agenda.

Christopher Rouse’s Rapture, composed in 2000, is described by the composer as an “exercise in gradually increasing tempi.” Rapture begins quietly—almost mysteriously—and builds, over eleven minutes of complex but beautiful textures, toward a radiant climax. Van Zweden and the full orchestra reveled in the constantly expanding scale of color and volume, settling at last on a serene major chord.

        After this audience-friendly example of contemporary American music, van Zweden and the orchestra returned to the standard romantic canon that has dominated their season so far, joining violinist Augustin Hadelich for Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor. This concerto presents a musical puzzle in that it is an obvious masterpiece of the first rank by a prolific composer who somehow, while producing a substantial body of work over a period of decades, never matched the pinnacle this particular piece represents.

       Hadelich, at 32, is one of the brightest lights in the upcoming generation of violin soloists. The German-Italian musician demonstrated the reasons behind his quick rise on the international scene from the first notes of the opening cadenza—spinning a gorgeous but widely varied tone joined to a commanding emotional intensity and sense of drama. While the first movement clearly established Hadelich’s power and versatility, it was in the Adagio—one of the finest slow movements in the symphonic repertoire—that his ability to sing with the violin shone most brilliantly. In the finale, the orchestra and Hadelich applied an almost percussive accent to the main theme, with its echoes of central European folk dance, then turned to a rich breadth in the expansive second theme.

        The Rouse and Bruch works had opened quietly, while the final work on the program, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, opens with a fanfare for winds marked fortissimo in the score but performed here at least fff. An overly bold opening always risks creating a sense of letdown in a work of this sort, leaving little room for expansion.

In this case, van Zweden clearly aimed at a cyclical journey from one mountain top to another. Assertive dynamic contrasts and sometimes aggressive modulations of tempo made for an often thrilling, always engaging pilgrimage across the landscape of Tchaikovsky’s violent mood swings, In the third movement, the contrast of the delicately shaped pizzicato sections with the pungent wind response took on a wonderful momentum.

        Dallas music lovers continue to enjoy a full-scale symphonic season, while their neighbors in Fort Worth are not so fortunate. The Fort Worth Symphony is currently on strike after a year of failed contract negotiations. Fort Worth’s concertmaster Michael Shih and associate concertmaster Swang Lin could be glimpsed in the back row of the Dallas Symphony’s second violin section Thursday night.

The program will be repeated 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. mydso.com; 214-692-0203.

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