Meanwhile, another illustrious maestro stepped up for Haydn 96, not the miracle symphony it appears that No.102 was actually being played when a falling chandelier missed the audience but most Haydn is miraculous. Bernard Haitinks crisp and affectionate reading was perhaps a little streamlined but always attractive, especially in the anticipatory slow introduction, delightful lilt of the Trio and the fleet Finale, quick but not at the expense of articulation.
Bernard Haitinks greatness owes much to his honesty and integrity. This backfired in Bartóks Dance Suite, which was dulled and regulated. Surprisingly finicky at times, Haitink exposed some susceptible ensemble; textures though were ear-catchingly diaphanous throughout and the oriental hues of the fourth section came off especially well. Although there was much feeling in the reflective ritornelli, the upbeat dances hung fire something earthier, rougher, a suggestion of dirt under the fingernails was needed.
Amends were made with Brahms 4, a glorious performance wonderfully well played nothing in the concert was under-rehearsed but the Brahms was the most practised. It even survived the man who spent two minutes rummaging through a very noisy plastic bag as the slow movement started and a repeater-alarm that heralded and inveigled the Finale. (I wonder if the slaying of disruptive audience members could be made legal.)
Haitinks equipoise between Brahmss Classical and Romantic leanings was ideal burnished singing lines, punctilious attention to rhythmic underpinning and wind/strings dialogue, and consistently eloquent shaping that never impeded the through-line. Had Haitink unleashed more force in the outer movements codas, this would have truly clinched the argument. This relative restraint underlined Haitinks lofty way with the music, which bordered on the serene at times, and can be placed with Sanderling, Celibidache, Giulini and Klemperer with not quite the respective darkness, pigmentation or spiritualism of the first three but at one with the latter in architectural splendour.
Haitinks personal way was through time-taken, rounded phrasing and warmth of expression. Aspirational throughout, Haitinks humanity allowed the music to speak direct. His next LSO concert is much anticipated, not least for the mouth-watering prospect of Bizets endearing symphony and Debussys priceless La mer.
- Bernard Haitink conducts the LSO on May 15/16 in the above pieces plus Beethoven 7
- Box Office: 020 7638 8891 www.barbican.org.uk