The Chicago Tribune sized up DSO conductor Jaap van Zweden last week, before he arrived to conduct Bruckner’s 5th symphony as an emergency replacement for Riccardo Chailly — and reported, more or less, that they were cautiously impressed. This weekend, the Sun-Times agreed. Andrew Patner, critic-at-large for Chicago’s WFMT, wrote that, “On the strength of this remarkable debut, I would go to hear Van Zweden conduct anything, anywhere.”
You couldn’t get a more glowing assessment. Unless you turned back to the Tribune, whose critic, John von Rhein wrote that van Zweden showed “the confidence and authority of a born conductor.”
There is something of Georg Solti’s intensity and electric drive about Van Zweden, minus the ferocity. He has a string player’s feeling for shaping the arc of a singing line. Nothing he did seemed on autopilot: He found as much drama in the near-silences as in the majestic climaxes. His full engagement with the music and the musicians, body and soul, was never in doubt.
And yes, happy-to-leap-to-their-feet-for-anything Dallasites — there was a standing O.