Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt has said, “Conducting is a good profession to grow old in, because it’s always a challenge, and you need a challenge as you get older.” At 93, he must know whereof he speaks, yet musicians and audiences are more likely to marvel at his unassuming seraphic authority. In Berlin, he opens with the Fourth Symphony of Sibelius, which is said to reflect the composer’s immersion in psychoanalysis, and closes with the joyous Fourth Symphony of Brahms. Those add up to perhaps 80 minutes. To clear the aural palate between symphonies there’s a five-minute interlude from Stenhammar’s Sången. Light at the end of the tunnel? On paper, this program recalls the old days, when pandemics were just a dystopian fantasy. —M.G.
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