Bernard Haitink's classically clear and direct approach combines élan, elasticity and, where appropriate, tremendous rhythmic punch – his readings of Boléro and La valse are volatile, yet thrillingly disciplined to the last. He brings a natural compulsion to the languorous eroticism of Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2, while his idiomatic handling of the earliest (and slightest) of these works, the Menuet antique and familiar Pavane pour une infante défunte, is equally beguiling. Haitink's painstaking attention to fine orchestral detail adds refined distinction to his Valses nobles et sentimentales and crystalline delicacy to both Le tombeau de Couperin and the more elusive Ma mère l'oye. There are few more vibrantly evocative, or palpably exciting versions of the Rapsodie espagnole and Alborada del gracioso. Don't be in the least surprised, however, if the phenomenal sound quality prompts an incredulous second glance at the recording dates quoted in the booklet!
This recording of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 with the Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the best perfromances on CD.
Composer: Gustav Mahler
Performer: Elly Ameling, Aafje Heynis, Maureen Forrester, Ileana Cotrubas, Hermann Prey, Marianne Dieleman, Birgit Finnilä, Heather Harper, Hanneke van Bork, William Cochran, Hans Sotin
Conductor: Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Chorus, St. Willibrod Boy's Choir, Netherlands Radio Women's Chorus, Stern des Volks, Amsterdam Toonkunst Chorus, Collegium Musicum Amstelodamense, St. Pius X Children's Choir, St. Willibrod Children's Chorus
"Bernard Haitink: The Symphony Edition" is one of two recent box sets from Decca, marking Haitink's eighty-fifth birthday in 2014. Together with Haitink: The Philips Years this set offers a broad, tantalizing overview of the great Dutch conductor's compelling artistry, and makes a near-perfect introduction to one of the truly magnificent recorded legacies of our time. Haitink will be 85 on 4 March 2014, and this set presents his six complete symphonic cycles by cornerstone classical composers: Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.