Giancarlo Guerrero with the Dallas Symphony
Critical Acclaim for Giancarlo Guerrero’s engagement with the Dallas Symphony
“The concert was pretty fabulous…he certainly got results from the orchestra. In Pictures, as well as the Mussorgsky/Rimsky-Korsakov Night on Bald Mountain, there was drama aplenty, but also fastidious attention to detail. Thrice-familiar pieces were made fresh and exciting.”
Guerrero brings insight (and showmanship) to DSO’s Russian program
“Two reliable crowd-pleasers bookend a dark 20th-century masterpiece in this weekend’s all-Russian program by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. All parties involved—guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, violin soloist Leonidas Kavakos, and the orchestra—turned in solid performances at Meyerson Symphony Center, including some surprising new insights into an overly-familiar work.
Giancarlo Guerrero, who is currently music director of the Nashville Symphony, began his professional musical career in the U.S. a few miles down the freeway as an undergraduate percussion major at Baylor University. The Costa Rican-born conductor opened the concert with Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain (orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov), a work familiar to a broad audience through its presence in the 1940 version of Fantasia. Guerrero immediately threw in a strong dose of showmanship, searchingly surveying the orchestra before lifting his arm for the downbeat (and, incidentally, conducting without baton or score).
He immediately proved himself to be more than just a showman, however. Beneath the visual podium emoting, there was a clean, baton-less technique, and the orchestra responded with a neat precision that it hasn’t consistently demonstrated under this season’s string of guest conductors. Guerrero also has clearly latched onto the acoustic possibilities of Meyerson Symphony Center: it’s an excellent room for orchestral music, but guest conductors have to quickly adapt to the particular characteristics involved. Guerrero did just that, exploring tone qualities and achieving an ideal balance at all times.
Mussorgsky returned after intermission, this time in Ravel’s arrangement of his Pictures at an Exhibtion. Once again, Guerrero adopted a showy stance, with an eye to the image he projects to the audience, but still demonstrating an imaginative and effective approach to this overworked audience favorite.
He produced a neatly articulated phrasing of the Promenade theme, and consistently found surprising textures in Ravel’s orchestration. Often appropriately playful with the score, he achieved a serious impetus in the “Bydlo” section that reminded that yes, this is a piece by the master who produced Boris Godunov…the orchestra once again responded with sharp precision, and a cheering audience clearly felt it had its money’s worth.”
“Last weekend’s Dallas Symphony Texas Instrument Classical Series program, featuring guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, Music Director of the Nashville Symphony, and violinist Leonidas Kavakos, was a technicolor romp through some of the most exciting works in the repertoire.
The DSO and Guerrero’s excellent performance made the most of this slightly creepy, seasonally appropriate piece, holding grand pauses for ever so long for the most dramatic possible effect. Principal Flute David Buck’s lyrical solo was beautifully phrased, and a special thank you goes to the audience, who held their applause for several seconds, letting the last notes linger in the air, until Guerrero lowered his arms.
Bookending the program was Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition…This is a big piece with big musical gestures, and Guerrero and the orchestra…were up to the task. His musical approach is big, lush, and highly Romantic. (Full disclosure: Guerrero and I were in the same undergraduate class at Baylor University, and performed in the Baylor Symphony together for four years.)”