Jaap Van Zweden Conducts Mozart and Shostakovich

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Jaap van Zweden, the incoming music director of the New York Philharmonic, leads the Dallas Symphony.

Tune in Thursday at 9 pm to hear Jaap van Zweden, the incoming music director of the New York Philharmonic, conduct the orchestra in Mozart's Sinfonia concertante, featuring Sheryl Staples (principal associate concertmaster) and Cynthia Phelps (principal viola). Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony, which the composer described as "an optimistic, life-affirming work" (though the Soviet censors at the time disagreed with his assessment), follows.

Alec Baldwin hosts the program.


Mozart: Sinfonia concertante, K.364/320d
Sheryl Staples, violin; Cynthia Phelps, viola

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8

Jaap van Zweden, conductor

Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

This re-broadcast of the concert of November 20, 2014 offers two views of Mr. van Sweden's conceptions of two masters' masterpieces. The Mozart work afforded Ms. Staples and Ms. Phelps to display soloistic and collaborative abilities which they did to the point of matching increasing speeds of their trills. I have no equivocations about their performance or that of the orchestra, whose instrumentation is that of two oboes, two horns and strings. The Shostakovich symphony was a searing revelation of the ethos and intent of the music from the arresting and unsettling downward and upward major second (C B flat C) first heard by the 'cellos and contrabasses, exaggerated in the opening of the second movement, and finally evoking some semblance of peace (even if temporary, in the last movement, in which the interval is inverted (C D C) and first heard on the principal bassoon. The vibratoless first violin statement 10 bars from the beginning evoked the dirge of the movement, but the fortississimo (fff) climactic moments on the full orchestra blazed in glory and defiance. The sardonic second movement is most evocative to this listener if all notes are accented and exaggerated, the better for the message to be clear. The solo by piccolo and tuba was carefully balanced; the "circus music" (my term) accompanying the solo trumpet with snare drum cymbal and bass drum was bitter in its irony; and the tempo instruction five bars from the end "rit sin alla Fine" was doggedly adhered to. The savagery of the third movement was on full display. The dirge of the fourth movement in which time seems to stand still was crowned by the piccolo solo and the 32nd notes on the four flutes (is that played flutter tongue)? The first and last movements feature very dynamic crescendos on the timpani, snare drum, cymbal and bass drum, reminiscent of Mahler's Second Symphony's last movement, but I've long wondered about the brazen quotation of the main motive from Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony signified in the first and last movements of this Symphony. Surely this is no coincidence but I've never heard or read any commentary about this. I'm completely baffled. I suppose it's one of the many unanswered questions that will always be raised by this master's symphonies. This performance was satisfying to me in every way. For reference, there's the recording of the dedicate'e, Yevgeny Mravinsky's performance in London in the early 1960's with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchstra; and the complete first movement recorded by Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, sadly never completed by the Victor company for posterity.

Aug. 14 2016 03:09 PM

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