Thursday night’s concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra was the finest of the season. There are three chances to hear its repetition — on Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon — and those who choose not to go are going to miss a big one.
The one work on the program is Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8. It’s massive in both the size of the orchestra required to play it and in its length — about an hour and a quarter — but it delivers massive thrills in compensation.
Certainly that was the case Thursday night. Jaap van Zweden proved to be a master of the work’s dramatic potential and its many subtleties, and he drew inspired playing from an expanded Dallas Symphony. Another major asset was the spacious acoustics of the Meyerson Symphony Center, which are ideal for something like the Bruckner 8 (Van Zweden calls it “the best Bruckner hall anywhere”).
The work was deeply moving throughout. From the opening measures it was clear that this was going to be a great night for the DSO’s strings. The woodwinds were in top form, and the reinforced brass — always vital in Bruckner — played nobly. The timpanist got quite a workout and contributed much to the evening’s success.
Perhaps the peak of an exceptional performance was the slow movement, which just about achieved perfection and deeply stirred the soul.
One can see why true fans of Bruckner think his symphonies are not long enough. Judging by the strong audience reaction Thursday night, there were people in the Meyerson who would agree.