At the Dallas Symphony, a Dutch conductor and an Argentine pianist walk onto the stage…


Among cancellations in an icy week was the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Thursday night concert. Planned performances resumed Friday, and a program nothing if not audience friendly filled plenty of seats at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

Timely programming could have included the “Winter” section of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons — which even evokes slipping on ice — or Tchaikovsky’s Winter Dreams Symphony (No. 1). But veteran Dutch conductor Edo de Waart supplied warmer fare: Chopin’s F minor Piano Concerto (No. 2, with Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter) and Beethoven’s outdoorsy Pastoral Symphony. It was the second recent DSO concert without an overture: just a concerto and a symphony.

Given the necessarily compacted rehearsal schedule, it’s a good thing the program was not particularly demanding for the musicians. The orchestra for the most part sounded especially good Friday night, the strings polished, winds and brasses fitting into ensembles just so.

The Beethoven certainly showed off the eloquence of the DSO’s principal winds: flutist David Buck (with a warm tone that almost sounded like a wooden instrument), clarinetist Gregory Raden, oboist Erin Hannigan and bassoonist Ted Soluri. Visiting principal horn Brett Hodge, from the Omaha Symphony, added beautifully burnished cameos.

De Waart, best known in this country for tenures as music director of the San Francisco and Minnesota symphony orchestras, set the tone for most of the evening with a suavely contoured introduction to the Chopin. Throughout the concerto, he maintained fine balances, in sound as well as shape and direction. But he didn’t hesitate to linger over fragrant cadences.

Fliter, whose credits include prizes in the Chopin and Busoni competitions and the 2006 Gilmore Artist Award, was an elegant soloist. Favoring tonal clarity over padded sonorities, she gave the Chopin fresh-faced immediacy.

Where appropriate, she also gave the music almost improvisatory freedom — though never at the cost of coherence or urgency. De Waart and the orchestra were sensitive and generous collaborators.

Pianist Ingrid Fliter performs as Edo de Waart conducts (not pictured) the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Feb. 3, 2023. The group performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2.(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

Unique among Beethoven’s symphonies, the Pastoral Sixth has an evocative title for each of the five movements. As in all his symphony movements, Beethoven indicated tempos by beat-per-minute metronome markings, and I think de Waart was pretty close in the middle three movements.

The “Scene by the Brook” had a gentle lilt, the “Merry Assembly of Country Folk” a well-behaved start but some rowdiness as it got going. In the “Thunderstorm” movement sprinkles portended torrents, with timpani thunderclaps near and far, before the storm blew off into the distance.

Beethoven’s lively metronome marking for the first movement suggests wide-eyed exhilaration on “Arriving in the country.” De Waart’s more deliberate pace suggested smiling admiration of well-tended landscapes.

This was plausible pacing for an orchestra and concert hall larger than early 19th century norms. But the final “Shepherd’s Song — Happy, grateful feelings after the storm” was earthbound, and seemed interminable. (Did it get short shrift in rehearsals?) Maybe subsequent performances will come alive.


Repeats at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora. $24 to $107. 214-849-4376, The concert will be available for on-demand streaming on the DSO website starting Feb. 27.