News Column

Review: Prom 40: LSO/Haitink: Royal Albert Hall, London 4/5

August 18, 2014

Andrew Clements



Bernard Haitink is not only celebrating his 85th birthday this year, but also the 60th anniversary of his debut as a conductor. Through much of those six decades Mahler has been a central part of his music-making, and the Fourth Symphony was the focus of his concert with the London Symphony Orchestra; it was his 86th appearance at the Proms.

Haitink's Mahler may be an utterly familiar quantity by now, but that in no way diminishes its power and effectiveness. With the LSO audibly relishing the chance of playing with a conductor who cares about getting everything right and about making fine distinctions in the dynamics and attacks, this was a performance of fascinating detail. It was most notable in the opening movement, with its Mozartean echoes, and in the slow movement, in which the equivalent Adagio in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony seems to be hovering in the background, especially when the opening theme is unfolded with the poise and quiet intensity with which Haitink invested it.

There are other ways of approaching the Fourth. There's more menace in the scherzo, and even a sinister edge to parts of the finale's Knaben Wunderhorn song (in which Camilla Tilling was the beautifully unforced soprano soloist) that Haitink didn't explore. There were moments, too, when for all the orchestra's responsiveness and efficiency its sound lacked that sheen of finesse and plushness; the great climax of the third movement could have been even more gorgeously overwhelming. But the pacing of everything was so instinctive, so natural that none of that really mattered, while the account of Schubert's Fifth Symphony before the Mahler had seemed almost to play itself, with deceptively minimal encouragement from the podium.

Andrew Clements

The Proms continue until 13 September. Details: bbc.co.uk/proms



For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel



Source: Guardian (UK)


Story Tools






HispanicBusiness.com Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters