Claus Peter Flor brings passion and amazing control to Dallas Symphony program of Wagner and Strauss
Claus Peter Flor hasn't lost his magic.
Returning to lead the Dallas Symphony Orchestra after an eight-year absence, in a program of Wagner and Strauss, the German conductor once again demonstrated a visceral grip on musical tension and fastidious control of dynamics.
This would have been no surprise to those who remember one amazing Flor performance after another during his past tenure as the DSO's principal guest conductor. His conducting Thursday night at the Meyerson Symphony Center was more physically flamboyant than I remembered, but it all meant something. Imparting never-ending urgency, it shaped crescendos and decrescendos, controlled balances and signaled important entrances.
Framing the program were two Wagner preludes, to Tannhäuser and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, both operas involving singing contests. In the former, true love triumphs, but only in redemptive death. Flor signaled the seriousness of the matter with a daringly slow tempo for the opening hymn, but sustaining amazing tension, with eloquent solos from principal clarinetist Gregory Raden.
In Death and Transfiguration, Flor's fastidious control of dynamics, over an enormous range, was amazing. From hushed opening lappings of strings, solemnly punctuated by timpani, to shattering climaxes, everything was gauged and balanced just so. But the effect felt wholly organic — indeed, inevitable — never contrived.