Shostakovich's Politically-Charged Symphony No. 7 Comes to Life at Canellakis' Baton

Karina Canellakis
Dallas Observer

An orchestral program of Mozart’s darkest piano concerto and Shostakovich’s most complex symphony would challenge a conductor under any circumstances. Thursday night at Myerson Symphony Center, the Dallas Symphony’s assistant conductor Karina Canellakis stepped in for music director Jaap van Zweden (who was called away on a family emergency) with less than twenty four hours notice to take on this task with impressive success.

That Canellakis was up to the assignment was evident from the first moment in her confident and precise delivery of the multi-layered lines in the somber orchestral introduction of Mozart’s Concerto No. 24 in C minor, nicely setting up the stark entry of piano soloist David Fray. Van Zweden has trained the Dallas Symphony well in the not-so-easy art of presenting Mozart’s orchestral music in a large concert hall, and Fray, who owns a well-deserved reputation as an interpreter of eighteenth-century music on the modern piano, collaborated beautifully to explore a wide range of colors in this moody, quasi-operatic work.


While Canellakis had demonstrated admirable command of both emotional and technical detail in the Mozart, she admirably expanded those same qualities into Shostakovich’s epic score, knowing exactly when and how to produce the bombast of battle, and, even more impressively, how to communicate the sorrow and anguish presented in the later movements. This listener entered the concert hall confident that Van Zweden would pull this off with style, and left even more impressed with the young conductor who achieved the same accomplishment on short notice.

Read the rest of the review here