Alisa Weilerstein
Music and Opera reporting on is made possible by The University of North Texas College of Music.
Select the link below to discover more.

Review: Tchaikovsky and Bruckner | Dallas Symphony Orchestra | Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center

Heavy Hands

Dallas Symphony goes off course with an oddly paired program of a light Tchaikovsky piece and Bruckner's gloomy Symphony No. 7.

published Friday, February 3, 2017

Photo: Harald Hoffmann
Alisa Weilerstein

Dallas — In a move of audacious programming, Dallas Symphony Music Director Jaap van Zweden opened Thursday’s concert with Tchaikovsky’s charming bit of fluff, Variations on a Rococo Theme for cello and orchestra (1876)—and then plunged into the huge, dark, empty and gloomy cathedral of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7. Keep in mind that this piece, written between 1881 and 1883 and revised in 1885, is one of Bruckner’s sunnier symphonies, except for the inconsolable grief of the slow movement.

The program was also unbalanced as to time. The Tchaikovsky takes less than 20 minutes while recordings of Bruckner’s symphony run from a dash-through-it 55 minutes (Toscanini) to one hour and five minutes (Claudio Abbado) to an hour and a half (Sergiu Celibidache).

The cellist was the astonishingly talented Alisa Weilerstein, who gives stunning performances of almost all the great cello concerti. Tchaikovsky’s delightful set of variations got an amazing performance from her in spite of being programmed as van Zweden’s amuse-bouche before the Brucknerian main course.

Weilerstein tried to enjoy all the humor built into this delightful piece, but van Zweden must have already been in Bruckner’s dense and dark forest. Eventually, she gave up and just played it as any other concerto. Even worse, van Zweden was just slightly behind her at the end.

Bruckner’s symphony also suffered from over-angst—and there is plenty of angst already in the music. 

Van Zweden’s performance clocked in near Celibidache’s glacial pace and it felt even longer. Further, the orchestra sounded tired. They were precise as ever, but lacked their usual brilliance.

It was hard to tell which edition was used—there are several, all of which disagree. But it was probably the edition by Leopold Nowak based on an earlier one cleaned up by Robert Haas, because the performance included the single cymbal crash, triangle roll and some timpani, which felt like it was on the inside edge of the pitch all evening.

These editions differ about tempi markings so it is difficult to comment on the tempi in any one performance. The conductor can’t win; some will always think that the fast is too fast and the slow is too slow.

The Scherzo suffered the most from turgid tempo trauma. This is supposed to be a ländler, a jolly Austrian pleasant dance with much stomping, which Beethoven and Mahler used frequently. Van Zweden did a little swaying at the beginning but it was serious stuff thereafter. There was lots of brilliant brass playing, but it was apparent that it was an effort. The finale lost its impact because all the super loud dynamics in the bank were spent long before. Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Heavy Hands
Dallas Symphony goes off course with an oddly paired program of a light Tchaikovsky piece and Bruckner's gloomy Symphony No. 7.
by Gregory Sullivan Isaacs

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :