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<<  -- 2 --  Malcolm Miller    HAITINK'S BEETHOVEN


In the Fifth Symphony, it was the purposeful sound Haitink elicited from the orchestra that impressed most, and if the penetrating fullness of the initial motto made its impact, yet the subsequent development was the focus of attention. There was no fussing about, the music simply lurched into forward gear on full throttle, each tiny detail of articulation attended to. Yet while momentum was clearly maintained, lyricism was always emphasised where possible; there were some wonderful inner voices emerging throughout, for example clarinet lines usually hidden away in the texture, and moments of pure beauty of sound for the orchestra. The recapitulation was especially effective, almost operatic, here the oboe's soliloquy was allowed ample space to express its eloquent plaintive tones.

If the variation movement seemed rather fast, yet the theme itself glowed with warmth of tone and attractively balanced dialogues of strings and wind; the pliable development passages for woodwind blossomed, and the goal of the movement was its subtle fading into the twilight in the last few bars, rather than the rousing fortissimo variation. This helped bring out the mysterious impact of the third movement all the more, the cellos and basses suitably lugubrious yet at a fast tempo, with the brass brightly pointed, and the fugato frothy and energetic, the whole leading imperceptibly, seamlessly into the triumphant finale.

Bernard Haitink. Photo © Matthias Creutziger
Bernard Haitink. Photo © Matthias Creutziger

By now entirely immersed in the sway and throng of the music, the LSO excelled in its individual focus of tone so that each structural point was marked clearly, and rousingly. The rapturous ovation by the capacity audience was clear indication as much of Haitink's success as of Beethoven's genius. As a conductor he is an enabler, enabling the orchestral musicians to maximise their individual potentials. As such he is a far greater conductor than those totalitarians who submerge players within the mass of the ensemble; the reward of his approach is the sheer joy and humanity of the sound.

Copyright © 27 April 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK




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