… or maybe it’s just Chicago Tribune classical music critic John von Rhein. He’s pretty much loved the DSO conductor every time he’s come to town to play with the Chicago Symphony. Interestingly enough, where the LATimes’ Richard Grinnell rolled his eyes at van Zweden’s “muscular, jerking” gestures, intimating that he must have been inspired by Sir Georg Solti, von Rhein, when he first saw van Zweden, spotted the same similarity but in a positive light (Sir Georg having conducted the CSO for 22 years): “There is something of Georg Solti’s intensity and electric drive about Van Zweden, minus the ferocity.”
This time, he turned to that other classic Chicago pastime: baseball.
Every Major League Baseball franchise should have a pinch hitter who can lift the team to glory as splendidly as Jaap van Zweden does for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
The weekend subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall mark the third time in three seasons that the gifted Dutch maestro has stepped in for another guest conductor. Van Zweden’s successes here in 2008 and 2009, and the glowing notices he has been garnering in his nearly two seasons as music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, appear to have earned him pride of place on management’s radar. And so when Esa-Pekka Salonen dropped out late last month, van Zweden was one of the conductors to whom the CSO immediately turned to replace him.