Review: Richard McKay Conducts A Fine Season Opener

 In News, Reviews

By Scott Cantrell | The Dallas Morning News

Given all the great chamber-orchestra repertory that goes unheard around here, it seems a shame that the Dallas Symphony Orchestra hasn’t developed a sideline series with smaller forces. In the Dallas City Performance Hall, which opened last fall, we also now have an acoustically lively setting well suited to such performances.

Into that breach last season the young conductor Richard McKay introduced the Dallas Chamber Symphony…

McKay was never flamboyant — a good thing. In addition to clear beats, he allowed more of his body to express the ebb and flow of the music’s tensions. The mostly young ensemble of two dozen strings responded with performances as eager and expressive as they were accomplished…

It was good to be reminded, yet again, of Mendelssohn’s brilliance as a mere youngster, this time via the rarely performed D minor Violin Concerto. The composer was all of 14 when he penned it, but already this is music of flair as well as sophistication.

The orchestra’s new concertmaster, Kazuhiro Takagi, a Japanese violinist trained at Southern Methodist University, brought satin-finished tone, nimble technique and natural expressivity to the solo part… The orchestra played beautifully.

Apart from what struck me as tempos a notch too slow in the first movement — and in the finale’s reprise of that introduction — the Tchaikovsky Serenade for strings was finely paced and sensitively shaped. Violins didn’t land unanimously on a few of the highest notes, but these were slight glitches.

This is an ensemble with real potential for enriching the area’s musical life…

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