Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado leaves his mark on exciting Brahms and Berlioz performance by the DSO

Blake Pouliot
Dallas Morning News

Gripping from start to finish: That was Thursday night's Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert. One of the most impressive guest conductors in the 2017-18 season, the Spaniard Pablo Heras-Casado was back on the podium for a hefty program of the Brahms Violin Concerto and the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique. Again, he impressed with deeply musical performances, but they were exciting, too.


Young Canadian violinist Blake Pouliot, substituting for an indisposed Renaud Capuçon, surged onstage in rock star pants, a collage of bright colors. And he presented Brahms not in accustomed North German reserve, but as a composer of great passion. It wasn't necessarily the way I hear the piece, but it was compellingly — indeed, irresistibly — done. 

Both Pouliot and Heras-Casado warmly shaped the concerto's more melodic parts, giving just the right catch-breaths, daringly stretching major transitions without ever overdoing them. Erin Hannigan played the big oboe solos as beautifully as could be imagined. Exciting parts fairly crackled with electricity, Pouliot dispatching the virtuoso licks with panache, but both soloist and conductor made magic of pianissimos. 
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