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The visits of BSO conductor emeritus Bernard Haitink have been a fixture of recent Symphony Hall seasons, typically arriving toward the end of each year and drawing a mellow line under the sturm und drang of cancellations, conductor searches, and whatever else came before. But Haitink has had a more intermittent presence at Tanglewood of late, returning this past weekend for the first time in five years. He’ll also be back again on Sunday to lead the BSO’s traditional season-closing performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
These days, at 84, Haitink brings no heavy-handed interpretive agendas or grand itineraries for adventure beyond the canon. But in his conducting there remains a sense of accumulated wisdom, and a certain lightness of touch, that consistently draw rewarding results from the orchestra. And so it was on Saturday night, when he returned to Mahler's Fourth Symphony.