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Thread: The Passing of Bernard Haitink

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    Default The Passing of Bernard Haitink

    I just found out that Bernard Haitink has passed away. Maybe some thoughts. As I was learning/buying Classical CD(I missed the LP era) it seemed that Haitink was not seen in the most positive light. There has been a greater reflection of his legacy. I don’t have a lot of Haitink recordings but I like what I have. Mahler 9 &DLVDE. Also his Beethoven cycle with the LSO on the LSO Live label. I find myself going back to these recordings.

    Anyone else have any thoughts?

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    One of the greatest. I treasure the Concerts that I saw him conduct here in Chicago. A sad day

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    He was a great conductor. Bruckners Symphony No. 3 and Shostakovich No. 8 comes ad hoc to my mind.

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    He had somewhat of a reputation as a "dull kapellmeister" in some circles, which is occasionally justified but he was certainly a great conductor, keeping alive the great Germanic tradition of Furtwängler, Klemperer, and Karajan. His Mahler 9 with the RCO is one of my favorite versions of my favorite symphony - it just sounds so "right" and the playing is sumptuous - and some of his live Bruckner is superb. Also enjoy his RVW and Debussy, neither of which sounds on paper like it would be up his alley but the phrasing and conceptions are impeccable. Rest in peace, maestro.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

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    One of the most powerful performances I attended was a Bruckner 9th with Haitink and the Vienna Philharmonic. Heavy as it gets. The applause was almost as overwhelming as the performance, and the audience wasn't going to stop until he grabbed the concertmaster by the hand and dragged him and the rest of the orchestra offstage. I can't exaggerate how important his Shostakovich cycle was to me (and perhaps many others). It was a time when I had just started getting into classical music and Shostakovich, and the record/cd stores didn't have many options for his symphonies besides a few Russian orchestras and conductors I never heard of, as well as some small, regional U.S. orchestras...and then there was the Decca Haitink cycle with the Concertgebouw and London Philharmonic Orchestras. Furthermore, he seemed to be the only one recording the Shostakovich symphonies that I couldn't find, such as the 13th and 14th. Keep in mind, this was in the pre-internet, pre-Amazon days. My 1st recording of my favorite piano concerto, Beethoven's 4th, was a cassette of Haitink and Brendel (LPO?) performing the 3rd and 4th. Musicians seemed to love him, and he sure had a good run in Amsterdam.
    Last edited by SearsPoncho; Oct-22-2021 at 02:12.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    He had somewhat of a reputation as a "dull kapellmeister" in some circles, which is occasionally justified but he was certainly a great conductor, keeping alive the great Germanic tradition of Furtwängler, Klemperer, and Karajan. His Mahler 9 with the RCO is one of my favorite versions of my favorite symphony - it just sounds so "right" and the playing is sumptuous - and some of his live Bruckner is superb. Also enjoy his RVW and Debussy, neither of which sounds on paper like it would be up his alley but the phrasing and conceptions are impeccable. Rest in peace, maestro.
    I bought into the “Dour Dutchman” slight until I saw him live. The most unforgettable concerts were Mahler 1 and Shostakovich 4.
    My favorite recordings were his cycles of Shostakovich and Ralph Vaughn Williams. I believe he was the first non Russian and non British Conductor to make cycles of those two composers, and for me, confirmed their “International “ Stature

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    For me personal these are one of his best, what you see is what you get.

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    He had his moments ... perhaps the finest being the RV Williams cycle on EMI (1980-90s)

    71gf4vvcRAL._SL1200_.jpg

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    He may not have been the most viscerally exciting conductor, but everything he did was very musical, thoughtful and beautiful. His recordings are by and large comfortable. He certainly could get the blood moving and make things exciting, but he was clearly lower key than some of his peers. Unlike some conductors he really only recorded music he loved and believed in. Even though most of his recordings have been released on CD, often multiple times, here's a complete Philips set that would be most welcome (and very, very heavy and expensive).
    "It is surprising how easily one can become used to bad music" - F. Mendelssohn

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    Quote Originally Posted by 13hm13 View Post
    He had his moments ... perhaps the finest being the RV Williams cycle on EMI (1980-90s)

    71gf4vvcRAL._SL1200_.jpg
    I agree. I have two of the symphonies - the 5th and the "Sea" - and consider them as fine as any I've heard.

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    I never could understand Hurwitz bashing the RVW boxset, it's a very balanced and fine cycle. Some of his Mahler and Bruckner recordings are absolutely first-rate. He left a huge body of work well worth researching into.
    RIP.
    Last edited by Azol; Oct-22-2021 at 06:43.

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    When I first started listening to classical music (back in the days of the LP record) I didn't rate Haitink highly because he seemed too neutral. But as I became more experienced I valued him more and more highly, for his ability to balance the orchestra so that no voice was lost, for his ability to find the perfect tempo, to control dynamics to build crescendos that are powerful but not forced, to find just the right expressive touches. He was truly one of the greats.
    There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington.

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    I am impressed by Haitink's large repertoire, versatility, great part balance and tempo choices. I like his recordings of symphonies and concertos, especially from his Philips era with RCO. Here are some of my recommendations:
    1. 1978-1980s recordings of Bruckner symphonies 3,4,5,7,8,9 with RCO/VPO on Philips
    Especially #7-9 which are among my favorite recordings.
    2. Mahler symphonies with RCO and BPO on Philips
    Among them #3,9 with RCO and #1,6 with BPO are exceptionally good.
    3. Debussy Orchestral Works Philips Duo
    A well-known recording.
    4. Wagner Preludes/Overtures with RCO late 1970s Philips
    Powerful and sonorous recording.
    5. His concertos recordings with Arrau, Szeryng, Grumiaux, Brendel, Ashkenazy etc. are legendary. He did the orchestral part perfectly with great details without losing the overall balance.
    Last edited by Bruckner Anton; Oct-22-2021 at 06:53.

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    A conductor who got better as he got older, for me. He left us with some superb recordings such as his last Beethoven 4th and 8th with the LSO.

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    I have both the Shostakovich and RVW cycles, along with the Beethoven 3, 4 and 8 from the LSO Live cycle. I also recorded his televised Haydn 104 from the Proms in 2012. I particularly like the RVW which I've been enjoying this week and over the past few months.

    I'm sorry to see him go.

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