Reinhardt, DSO present music of love and tragedy for Valentine’s Day

Fri Feb 14, 2020 at 12:44 pm
By Richard Sylvester Oliver
Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate’s Ghost of the White Deer was heard in its world premiere Thursday night by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Ruth Reinhardt is leading the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in works that largely center on the themes of love, romance and, strangely enough, tragedy. With music of Smetana, Martinů, Tchaikovsky, and a world premiere by Jerod Tate, this program was as lively as it was intimate, and Thursday night’s performance at the Meyerson Symphony Center offered a sturdy display of the DSO’s capabilities.

A symbol of Czech nationalism, Bedrich Smetana’s Overture to The Bartered Bride is a lively melodic curtain-raiser, and in Reinhardt’s hands, a compelling show of dynamic control. Opening with a brilliant flourish in full orchestra, it sets a jaunty mood that blends almost immediately into scherzo-like figure in the second violins. The DSO players were remarkably clean in execution here, and Reinhardt’s layering of the first violins and the lower strings into the texture was tempered, leading to lovely dynamic swells. The syncopated dance-like figure was convincingly raucous, suggesting the provincial setting of the comic opera and the two rustic lovers around whom the plot unfolds. Closing with a bright orchestral exclamation, it was a rousing start to the night’s love-themed program.

Bohuslav Martinů’s Symphony No. 4, a demanding Neo-Classical work, was given a bit less care from the rostrum. The antic opening set a tone of textural ambiguity, which was the composer’s intention. However, the ensuing exchange of melodic figures between the voices was a bit muddy, lacking something in clarity. The Allegro vivo, though pushed a bit in tempo, featured some lovely, detailed phrasing from the winds section.

The work’s slow movement opened with a glinting dissonant sweep that blended into lush, dreamy strings. The final movement, was a triumph—rhythmically defined, dramatic, and energetic.

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate’s Ghost of the White Deer was heard in its world premiere Thursday night. The Chickasaw composer, often incorporates American Indian influences into the genre, and this was no exception. Inspired by a Chickasaw folktale, the work follows two ill-fated lovers.

DSO principal bassoonist Ted Soluri demonstrated virtuosic ability on the instrument, with scurrying lyricism and a warm control of tone. However, through much of the drama of this storytelling, the lead instrument was lost under the texture of full orchestra. In moments of the piece, laid out in seven thematic sections, Soluri’s lines sat full and resonant against rumbling percussion or muted strings. However, too often the score called for bright brass and strings that unfortunately  to often drowned out the soloist.

The narrative arch of the work was endearing, albeit a bit long-winded, and the work would benefit from revision that puts more focused emphasis on the featured soloist. Nevertheless, the Tate debut earned standing ovations from Thursday night’s audience.

Closing the program was Tchaikovsky’s famed Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, a symphonic mainstay. Reinhardt, who also directed the DSO in its last performance of the piece in 2017, used careful dynamics and elegant phrasing to elevate the dramatic thread of this work.

Texturally balanced and dynamically sensitive, the orchestra does well to present the varying stages of the plot—Friar Laurence’s cell with mellow, hymn-like winds; the chaos of the street brawls in full, articulate allegros.

Together with the DSO, Reinhardt capably outlined the dark, imposing threat of two families at war with orchestral fury, and juxtaposes these colors effectively with the bright, soaring love theme with an overwhelming fullness. An expert display of musicianship and artistry, Thursday’s performance delivered eloquent musical storytelling at its finest.

The program will be repeated 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday., 214-692-0203.

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