Dallas — On Friday evening, the Meyerson Symphony Center seemed nearly packed full as a broad assortment of works inspired by tragic love were performed as part of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Teen Council concert. The Teen Council exists to help promote symphonic music to area teens, engaging them in activities involving the DSO and organizing a yearly concert, including the selection of theme, repertoire, and writing program notes (Madelyn Baker, Abby Crouse, Hadassah Lai, Ashley Barnes, and Sarah Klein did a great job on notes).
DSO Assistant Conductor Karina Canellakis was impressive, clear, and concise for the most part. The Overture-Fantasy to Romeo and Juliet by Tchaikovsky was well-proportioned and controlled. If any fault was to be found, it was in the composition itself; the number of ill-placed climaxes make the work exhausting. It is almost an exercise in futility to shape these into any sort of figure without consciously inserting bits of missing music. But working with the piece’s strength in orchestration and contrasts of timbre, Canellakis was convincing and tasteful in concept.
A similar control was evident in the next work, which featured talented young pianist Jason Lin. In Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, it was difficult to imagine a 14-year old making the music we heard. His sound was big, piercing, and sensitive. Winner of the 2015 Lynn Harrell Concerto Competition, Lin is currently a student of Alex McDonald and Marcy McDonald of the McDonald Studio.
After intermission, soprano Jessica Ehling and tenor Tomas Padron sang in two arrangements of songs from the movie The Fault in Our Stars. Both were convincingly popish and demonstrated significant control of their instruments. However, the tendency to pull the microphone away while still producing sound clotted some of the musical flow. The overall effect was pleasant and entertaining.
Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story gets plenty of play, but rarely does it get this treatment. Canellakis was calm, in control, and sensitive to the serious-music aspects of this work. The result was perhaps the most satisfying performance of the Dances in recent memory. So often there are moments in this piece where if it is approached casually, it falls flat. However, Canellakis’ loving attention to details allowed the music shine. The fun, excitement, and the passion were articulated with great clarity.
The final work of the program, Montagues and Capulets from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet betrayed the effect of the Bernstein. As though tacked on at the very end, the listener was not ready for such a beast, as brief as it might have been. Perhaps a contributing factor was fatigue in that this piece pushed the concert beyond the two-hour mark. Beyond this psychological boundary is dangerous territory.
The social aspect of this performance was much in line with the new style of orchestral performances gaining traction nationwide where an entire package of musical and social events is presented; an ice cream social and complimentary coffee bar were an attractive part of the package. But as much as this writer enjoys ice cream, a two-hour concert alone was more than enough for the evening. However, just the thought of ice cream and coffee after a concert was nice and sincerely appreciated.