The Classical Note: Our Critic Changes His Mind About Mozart Fest

It’s a music critic’s prerogative to change his mind, and the second installment of the Dallas Symphony’s two-part mini-Mozart festival changed mine. Although I consistently questioned the wisdom and efficiency of devoting two weeks out of a shortened classical subscription series to one composer, music director Jaap van Zweden completely won me over on the Friday night performance at Meyerson Symphony Center.

The collaboration of Van Zweden, the orchestra, and pianist Yefim Bronfman in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor provided the high point of the evening. Bronfman, a longtime favorite of connoisseurs for his perfectly balanced readings of Mozart, as usual found just the right approach—not too assertive, yet not too restrained—for this music, while Van Zweden and the orchestra (appropriately reduced from full romantic force) contributed an energetic background. And, of course, Mozart did his part: while this concerto, like the rest of Mozart’s late works, is a monument of architectural perfection, the brilliant little melodic jewels scattered throughout (particularly evident in the finale) remain the most arresting feature of this masterpiece.

Van Zweden opened the concert with a vividly contrasted reading of the quick, to-the-point Overture to Idomeneo. Immediately after intermission, the rarely performed Adagio and Fugue in C minor displayed Mozart in a baroque, almost studious mode, and gave the audience a healthy taste of the breadth of his genius. The hauntingly multi-layered Symphony No. 40 in G minor provided a worthy close; this time around, the elegantly serpentine Andante provided the most striking moment.

The orchestra’s classical subscription series will resume on the third weekend in February for a concert of music from the first half of the twentieth century under guest conductor Julian Kuerti. Van Zweden will be back on the podium one week later for a concert ranging from early Beethoven to contemporary American composer Steven Stucky.


The pace is picking up toward the rapidly approaching 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition to be held in Fort Worth on May 22-June 9, with two past gold medalists back in town this week. Radu Lupu, who won the competition in 1966, will present a solo recital at Bass Performance Hall on Monday night. The 2009 co-gold medalist Nobuyuki Tsujii performs Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the Fort Worth Symphony and music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya at Bass Performance Hall.

The 2013 international screening jury, which heard live auditions from applicants in Hong Kong, Hannover, Moscow, and Milan in January, will reconvene in New York on February 11-16, followed by three days of auditions, free and open to the public, at Ed Landreth Auditorium on the TCU campus in Fort Worth on February 20-22.