DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

THE CLASSICAL TRAVELER | Pinchas Zukerman Follows Up in Dallas

By Paul E. Robinson on October 6, 2015

Pinchas Zukerman
Pinchas Zukerman follows up with Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Jaap van Zweden after TSO season opener.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Jaap van Zweden. Pinchas Zukerman, violin. Meyerson Symphony Center. September 26, 2015

DALLAS – A few weeks ago, retired music director of the National Arts Center Orchestra (NAC), violinist Pinchas Zukerman opened the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) season with a performance of the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, covered for Musical Toronto by Arthur Kaptainis. From there, Zuckerman went on to Dallas, Texas where he was the guest artist for the Dallas Symphony’s 2015-2016 season Gala opening, a formal affair with a concert sandwiched between a sit-down dinner and an after-party, all taking place in the Meyerson Symphony Center. More than $500,000 was raised for the DSO on this night.

At the age of 67, Zukerman, as handsome as ever – now with a mane of silvery hair – is still one of the finest violinists of his generation. Admittedly, I have seen him on several occasions in past years playing as if he was on auto-pilot, but not on this night. Here he was fully engaged and playing like the master he is. To my ears, Zuckerman has always had the most beautiful tone of all the great violinists of our time, as well as a chamber music player’s flair for give and take with an orchestra.

Zukerman’s and van Zweden’s Beethoven were on exactly the same wavelength. Soloist and conductor clearly respect the printed score and take few liberties in matters of dynamics or tempo. Even in the poignant G minor section of the first movement, Zukerman did not slow down to wallow in the emotion of this passage. In the slow movement too, he kept the music moving forward where many soloists stretch out nearly every phrase. Although neither Zukerman nor van Zweden appear to have been moved by the insights of the historically informed performance proponents, they nonetheless manage to find the heart and soul of Beethoven’s music.

Jaap van Zweden and the DSO recorded a powerful performance of the Beethoven Seventh Symphony in 2007. Since then, many new players have been added to the orchestra and van Zweden’s demanding work with the musicians has raised the level of playing to an even higher standard. The Gala concert performance was astonishing in its precision and attention to detail. Van Zweden insisted on following the composer’s often very fast metronome markings for this symphony, and the results were electrifying. Strings were never covered by trumpets and timpani yet this Symphony has never sounded more thrilling. The horn playing was fearless and heroic, with David Cooper leading the way and the timpani playing by Brian Jones was almost frightening in its power.

But it wasn’t all speed and virtuosity. Although van Zweden did take a much faster tempo in the Allegretto than do many conductors, I was struck by how right it sounded. The outer movements of the symphony are often cited for their dance character. In this performance, the Allegretto too had a terpsichorean quality. If the conductor can find exactly the right tempo, more often than not, he/she will find the genuine character of the music.

Not all the members of the Dallas Symphony respond well to Jaap van Zweden’s leadership – rumblings of discontent have occasionally made their way to the Press – but from an audience perspective, the orchestra has never sounded better. All sections are in fine form, and the addition of concertmaster Alexander Kerr has made an enormous difference to the strings.

The 2015-2016 season is off to a great start with some exciting concerts to come – among them, van Zweden conducting the Bruckner Fifth Symphony, Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied and Act I of Die Walküre. Another European tour will cap the season.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on Toronto-centric classical music news and review before anyone else finds out? Get our exclusive newsletter here and follow us on Facebook or Twitter for all the latest.

Paul E. Robinson

Paul E. Robinson

Over the course of his career, Paul Evans Robinson has acquired a formidable reputation as a broadcaster, author, conductor, and teacher. He has communicated the joy of music to more than a generation of musicians and music lovers in Canada and elsewhere.
Paul E. Robinson

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Stratford Festival's 'The Merry Wives Of Windsor' Leaves No Shtick Unturned

By Paula Citron on August 8, 2019

Not without its faults, Stratford Festival's The Merry Wives Of Windsor is great for those who appreciate a good farce.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

SCRUTINY | Shaw Festival's The Russian Play An Impressive Mainstage Debut

By Paula Citron on July 28, 2019

With her first mainstage Shaw production, The Russian Play has shown director Diana Donnelly to be a shining talent.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | It's Easy To See Why Billy Elliot Endures With Stratford Festival Production

By Paula Citron on August 6, 2019

Top drawer production values, a strong cast, and positive vibes make Billy Elliot the Musical a Stratford Festival highlight.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.