Bernard Haitink - last concerts

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John F
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Bernard Haitink - last concerts

Post by John F » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:12 am

Bernard Haitink Announces His Retirement
June 12, 2019

The 90-year-old conductor gives his farewell to his birthplace, Amsterdam, this weekend; following one August concert with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in Lucerne, he will close out his 65-year career late this summer with the Vienna Philharmonic at the BBC Proms and the Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals. And what will he do after? “Just live.”

https://www.artsjournal.com/
John Francis

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Re: Bernard Haitink - last concerts

Post by maestrob » Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:39 pm

Haitink has not been a favorite conductor in what I've heard of him over the years. He tends toward slowness (Sea Symphony & Shostakovich IV) and his Mahler recordings lack energy. OTOH, he made an excellent case for Bartok's second violin concerto w/Szeryng, and Beethoven's Piano Concerti w/Perahia (The disc of III & IV won record of the year when it was first released), so a mixed bag, then.

Nevertheless, staying on the podium for such a length of time is quite an achievement, and it should be celebrated.

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Re: Bernard Haitink - last concerts

Post by John F » Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:58 pm

Well, that makes two of us. Haitink has certainly been an honest musician, and orchestras play very well for him, but I'm afraid none of the (fairly few) concerts and recordings of him that I've heard have that special quality, that spark, that I want.

The senior living conductor is Herbert Blomberg, who is 91 and shows no signs of slowing down. Him I can listen to with some interest, not so much in the standard repertoire but in Scandinavian composers - Berwald, Nielsen, Stenhammar, and others.

Incidentally, Haitink was the last Dutch conductor of that great Dutch orchestra, the Concertgebouw. After him have come Chailly, Jansons and Gatti. HIP aside, who are the leading Dutch conductors today? The only names that come to mind are Edo de Waart, whose career has trended downward rather than up since the 1980s, and Jaap van Zweden, who signed with the New York Philharmonic just too early to be eligible for Amsterdam when Gatti left in disgrace.
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Re: Bernard Haitink - last concerts

Post by maestrob » Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:28 am

Speaking of van Zweden, his recording of Le Sacre in NY received good reviews (4 1/2 stars in BBC Magazine). I have yet to hear it, so can't comment, and remember that you saw the live concert and were not impressed, John.

John F
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Re: Bernard Haitink - last concerts

Post by John F » Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:17 am

I didn't see the concert with "Sacre" but the one with Bruckner 8. Otherwise, van Zweden is still a closed book to me. But I'd say he has gotten off to a good start here. He's certainly answered the belief that he won't do much for new music; already he's done a lot more than any recent Philharmonic conductor besides Alan Gilbert.

By the way, Gilbert wasted no time in moving on to another important orchestra, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra in Hamburg, formerly the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra. The German radio orchestras are expected to perform a lot of new music, so I expect this will be a good fit for him. It looks like they think so in Hamburg as they've signed him to a first contract for five years instead of the more usual three.
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Re: Bernard Haitink - last concerts

Post by Lance » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:51 pm

Well, now it makes three of us! Almost all the recordings I have with Haitink conducting involve his collaborators, of which there were many over a long period of time. Names such as Gendron, Arrau, Szeryng, Grumiaux, Perahia, Ax, Casadesus, Janet Baker, Ashkenazy, Brendel, Jessye Norman, Prey, Starker, Heinrich Schiff, Frederic Lamond, Curzon, Janowitz, among others. But I give him great credit for hanging in there for such a long period of time - certainly one good reason to celebrate.
maestrob wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:39 pm
Haitink has not been a favorite conductor in what I've heard of him over the years. He tends toward slowness (Sea Symphony & Shostakovich IV) and his Mahler recordings lack energy. OTOH, he made an excellent case for Bartok's second violin concerto w/Szeryng, and Beethoven's Piano Concerti w/Perahia (The disc of III & IV won record of the year when it was first released), so a mixed bag, then.

Nevertheless, staying on the podium for such a length of time is quite an achievement, and it should be celebrated.
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John F
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Re: Bernard Haitink - last concerts

Post by John F » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:20 am

Last time Haitink (90) in the Netherlands
The farewell of Bernard Haitink in the Concertgebouw is the afternoon of gratitude
Merlijn Kerkhof
15 June 2019, 21:59

Saturday, 1.30 pm. Anyone who normally walks past the Amsterdam Concertgebouw at this time will see the first visitors trickle in for the matinee concert. Now there is little to walk. There is enough audience here to fill two Concertgebouw, it seems. Whoever manages to get through the revolving door, has to squeeze through a crowd of enthusiasts with a number for the waiting list.

The reason everyone wants to be here is called Bernard Haitink. He said in the Volkskrant on Wednesday that he will stop conducting - and that the concert in the ZaterdagMatinee will therefore be his last in the Netherlands. He is 90, he stops after a career of 65 years. And maybe at the peak.

For the Concertgebouw visitors no back of the head (short white hair around a bald skull) is as familiar as that of Haitink, the man who was chief conductor of the Concertgebouw orchestra (1961-1988) in the television era, the man who built up the reputation of that orchestra and who would become one of the very best conductors. Whether this concert is going to be good or not, it will be historic anyway.

The room is full. An extra row of seats has been placed on the stage. The places next to the organ case (you only see half of the stage) are sold: those people are standing. There are a striking number of musicians in the audience. Hey, isn't that Emmanuel Ax, stumbling onto the balcony in a green-gray raincoat? World-famous pianist, he often performed under Haitink. "I am so happy that I can be here," repeats the man who is also on the stage of the Great Hall a day later, but then on his own. Whether he regards Haitink as a friend? "Yes," says Ax, "a musical friend. But Bernard ... "He points up. 'He is over there!'

Haitink does not give his farewell concert with "his" Concertgebouw Orchestra, but with the orchestra where he started as chief in 1957: the Radio Philharmonic. The program has been changed for the occasion. The maestro wanted the Seventh instead of the Fourth Symphony by Anton Bruckner, and received it. He fell in love with work as an 8-year-old boy when he heard it on the radio.

But first we get songs from Richard Strauss, also Haitink's choice. Typical: they are about early love, birth (the baby Jesus); the perspective is youthful. Except in "Morgen" then. Bernard Haitink will read tomorrow. And yes, "just live". "My wife is very inventive in organizing things," he said in the big interview in the Volkskrant on Friday.

It is a little after 2.15 p.m. The applause on the rise has the euphoric cadence that you would not expect until afterwards. Haitink cautiously climbs the stairs on the side of the stage, his head bent slightly - he has not been descending those famous stairs along the organ for years.

Here we go. The first region of the violins is striking. Silvery sound. "Im Frühlingsschatten fand ich Sie," soprano Camilla Tilling sings. Nice voice, it has something youthful - it affects. She is enchanting in the soft passages, but not every leap is successful. Would she have been intimidated by this afternoon's load? Perhaps. But does anyone care?

No of course not. This is the afternoon of gratitude, this meeting is an award ceremony for an invisible oeuvre prize. One more time we see Haitink making gestures that everyone knows, such as the swift Z in the sky. We see his right hand shoot up sharply and then make a soft landing - vintage Haitink. He makes the fingers of his left vibrate so beautifully - let's keep this in our memory. How many Haitink memories have been collected here? The Amsterdammer gave more than 1500 performances with the Concertgebouw Orchestra alone.


"Die heilige drei Könige aus Morgenland" will have such a lovely interpretation (wonderfully deep low strings) that even the biggest Strauss hater will fall for it. In "Morgen," Haitink subtly stretches the sizes. Well, let this take longer. Joris van Rijn plays the violin solo as if he is guarding against surrendering to emotions, to finally do so. Magnificent. At the applause Haitink walks to the corner of the stage, at the stairs, and sits down. To applaud for the soprano.

After the break, his specialty: Bruckner. His Bruckner performances have started to sound a bit more earthy, he also makes the chords grind. But what has remained: when the first climax arrives, it takes you just not so far up the mountain that you see the whole view. That vista will come later. The orchestra responds to every movement. Meanwhile, Haitink alternates between standing conducting and swinging from a stool. We are being carried away. But suddenly the realization is there: those repeating figures in copper announce the end.

At 16.22 it is quiet. Bernard Haitink slams his score shut. He thanks all players - first the soloist, then the group. Television cameras gather in front of the goat. The applause is recorded with dozens of phone calls.

Bernard Haitink walks, now with a walking stick, back to the corner of the stage and back. He makes a gesture with his right hand, like a flower that flips open. What does Haitink see? If he looks straight ahead: the name of Gustav Mahler, the name that was covered by the Nazis in the war years. Haitink has been conducting here since the 1950s, yes. But he has been coming here since 1937. He attended the concerts at the beginning of the Hunger Winter. Some musicians from the Concertgebouw Orchestra that he heard in his earliest youth did not return.

Then he points to his ear, as if this applause is not a bit exaggerated. After eight minutes and six seconds, Bernard Haitink decides it has been beautiful. He runs out. We don't look aside. Tears in the eyes...
John Francis

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Re: Bernard Haitink - last concerts

Post by maestrob » Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:29 am

Lovely, lovely report. We should all retire and say farewell in such a way! 8)

John F
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Re: Bernard Haitink - last concerts

Post by John F » Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:48 am

One thing about the concert strikes me as odd: Haitink chose not to conduct the Concertgebouw Orchestra, with which he was identified for so many decades, but the inferior Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, which he had left after two years as chief conductor to become the co-music director of the Concertgebouw. But I see that Haitink maintained a relationship with the radio orchestra and was given the title of the orchestra's "patron." And his relationship with the Concertgebouw was not smooth, with threatened resignations in the 1980s and renunciation of his title as its conductor laureate. It seems Haitink was a somewhat more difficult character than we might have guessed.
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Re: Bernard Haitink - last concerts

Post by Rach3 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:42 am

John F wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:20 am
Last time Haitink (90) in the Netherlands

Here is that last concert :

https://www.nporadio4.nl/concerten/9150 ... e-symfonie

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