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Review: The Philharmonic’s Maestro Revels in the Classics

With the new year, it’s the homestretch for Jaap van Zweden’s six-year tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic, which ends this spring.

But even on their way out, chief conductors don’t lead their orchestras that much. Before this week, van Zweden hadn’t been on the Philharmonic’s podium since early October, and after Sunday he won’t return until mid-March.

So Thursday’s concert at David Geffen Hall was an island in a sea of guest batons. And it was about as van Zweden-esque as a program could be, consisting of nothing but standards: the kind of music that this maestro most relishes, and what he was brought to New York to enforce discipline in.

These days, if a major orchestra is going to play classic repertoire like Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto and Brahms’s Fourth Symphony, as the Philharmonic did on Thursday, it tends to precede it with a short contemporary piece in the opening slot. Window dressing, maybe, but it’s become the norm.

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