20-something assistant conductor makes brilliant debut for Dallas Symphony Orchestra

11.17.16
Ruth Reinhardt
Dallas Morning News

Few artistic experiences are as exciting as witnessing a brilliant debut by a young musician. It happened Thursday night at the Meyerson Symphony Center, when Ruth Reinhardt, assistant conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, led authoritative and musically sophisticated performances of a program she wasn't even supposed to conduct. 
The scheduled guest conductor, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, suffered a stroke Sunday. So Reinhardt, a 20-something German native trained at the Juilliard School, was tapped to prepare and lead a program including Witold Lutoslawski's complex Concerto for Orchestra. With gestures that always meant something, she delivered the goods Thursday night as if she'd been living with them for years. Repeat performances are highly recommended.
 Completed 11 years after Béla Bartók's 1943 work of the same title, the Polish composer's early triptych mixes influences of folk songs and dances with busy contrapuntal textures that sometimes explode with some dissonance. It's not exactly easy-listening music, but the rich varieties of texture make for an orchestral showpiece rewarding careful attention. 
The scherzo was a little fast for my taste, and the finale could have done with a little less slackening of tempo in more introspective inner variations.  But, with fastidious attention to balances, Reinhardt had a sure command of structure and shape, with just enough "give" at pivotal intersections. Brahms, with his dense textures, is one of the toughest composers to bring off, but Reinhardt did it with distinction.
 Italian pianist Francesco Piemontesi supplied singing tone and lovely shape in Mozart's B-flat major Piano Concerto (No. 27, K. 595), nudging the tempo just a little in a couple of brief patches of the first movement. Reinhardt and the orchestra, with aptly reduced string sections, collaborated in kind.