This year has been marked as much by personnel drama—Music Director Jaap van Zweden’s last season with the Dallas Symphony, Darren K. Woods’ termination from Fort Worth Opera, and Dallas Opera General Director Keith Cerny’s unexpected departure for Calgary—as by exceptional performances.
But there were still plenty of those exceptional performances.
In January, the Dallas Symphony performed Richard Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 1 with then-Principal Horn David Cooper, who has since left us to become principal horn of the Berlin Philharmonic. Cooper demonstrated his consummate skill as a hornist, and reminded us why we were lucky to have him here, first in the Fort Worth Symphony and then in the DSO.
In May, Matthias Goerne’s performance of Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise, as part of the DSO’s Soluna Festival, was a real standout. Also as part of the Soluna Festival, Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony and Dallas Symphony Chorus gave us a performance of Edward Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius that was utterly mesmerizing (so much so that I returned to hear a second performance).
Lots of fantastic chamber music emerged from local performers this year. One of the best and most enjoyable performances happened in October, when the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth presented both Messiaen’s moving Quartet for the End of Time and Stravinsky’s much more capricious A Soldier’s Tale, complete with marionettes.
Other groups continue to innovate—Dallas Bach Society allowed us to hear classical-period music with new ears in November, in a concert featuring period instruments such as fortepiano. American Baroque Opera Company had its charming debut in September, and contemporary chamber music group Voices of Change helped narrow the composer gender gap in March with a thrilling concert exclusively featuring women composers.
We were also lucky to hear a few artists both in recital and as soloists with area orchestras. In April, violinist Hilary Hahn wowed us in Fort Worth with her Cliburn Concerts recital at Bass Hall with pianist Robert Levine, and then she returned to the area in April to perform with the Dallas Symphony. Again in the Cliburn Concerts series, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan performed a recital in October, after Barnatan had performed Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the FWSO in February, and Weilerstein returned to play Prokofiev’s harrowing Sinfonia concertante in November.
These concerts remind us how lucky we are to have so much access to live classical music, with fine symphony orchestras, opera companies, and a variety of other groups and concert series. It is truly an embarrassment of riches.