Italian composers collide in appealing fashion in DSO’s Remix series

Sat Mar 03, 2018 at 2:06 pm
By Wayne Lee Gay

Ruth Reinhardt conducted the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Friday night at Moody Performance Hall.

Friday night’s hour-long, intermission-less concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra presented two of Italy’s greatest composers in an appealing contrast of musical styles.

As part of the orchestra’s off-site, audience-building Remix series, the concert featured a slightly reduced string section appropriate to the intimacy of the 750-seat Moody Performance Hall, across the street from the orchestra’s usual 2,000-seat Meyerson Symphony Center home. DSO assistant conductor Ruth Reinhardt led the performances.

To think of Italian music is to think of Rossini, and the evening opened with a lively rendition of the well-known overture to that composer’s most famous and deservedly beloved opera, The Barber of Seville. Reinhardt and the orchestra attacked the work, with its irresistible momentum and melodies, with precision and energy.

Texas-born mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert then joined Reinhardt and the orchestra for six of composer Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs for Voice and Orchestra. With a gorgeously rich tone and unfailing musical sensibility, Gaissert turned each of these miniature masterpieces into a little opera, ranging from the straight-forward simplicity of the American folksong  “Black is the Color” to the Carmen-like seductiveness of the “Azerbaijan Love Song.” Other particularly impressive moments included the twisting interaction of flute and voice in the French song “Malorous qu’a un fenno” and Gaissert’s  acrobatic consonants of the Italian “Ballo.”

Conductor Reinhardt then turned to the most substantial work on the program, Berio’s Rendering, a sort of fantasy-arrangement of the extant fragments of Schubert’s unfinished Tenth Symphony. Opening in the balanced, melodic world of Schubert, Berio slips, after a few phrases, into a dizzyingly kaleidoscopic dream-world. And so he continues for three movements and nearly half an hour, allowing the predictable beauties of Schubert to fade in and out of elusive modernisms, often with clouds of strings drifting past delicate comments from the celeste. Reinhardt and the orchestra reveled in the complexities of this musical funhouse, providing a unique experience for listeners with open minds and open ears.

After this journey to the edge, Reinhardt returned to Rossini and that composer’s Overture to William Tell.  While adding this overworked, overly familiar item as a coda to an otherwise intriguing lineup was puzzling, the orchestra delivered with proper devotion. Assistant principal cello Theodore Harvey led the overture off with an arrestingly fine rendition of the opening solo.

The program will be repeated 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Moody Performance Hall, and 3 p.m. Sunday at Murchison Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of North Texas in Denton.; 214-692-0203.

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