This month we welcome Bernard Haitink back to the Barbican for concerts on Tuesday 10, Sunday 15 and Thursday 19 October. Ahead of concerts delving into some towering figures of the Romantic era, here are our picks for the renowned conductor’s best releases on our record label, LSO Live.
Beethoven Symphonies Nos 1–9 Box Set
Back in 2006, many people wondered whether a complete set of Beethoven’s symphonies would ever be recorded again. But this six-disc, 397-minute-long project demonstrated Haitink’s talent for fresh new interpretations and showed exactly why Beethoven’s music is still so relevant today. So much so, that the set quickly became ‘the Benchmark Beethoven Cycle’. BBC Music Magazine
‘Simply masterful Beethoven… Capped by a magisterial account of the Ninth Symphony, this is the Beethoven set for our time. Even if you already have umpteen other recordings of these works, you really owe it to yourself to hear this new set.’ Chicago Tribune
Strauss An Alpine Symphony
Recorded live in concert at the Barbican in June 2008, Haitink’s breath-taking account of An Alpine Symphony was praised for its grand and atmospheric interpretation of the work’s epic journey as well as the crystal-clear and spacious DSD multichannel recording.
'Mastery is the word. This depiction of a mountain climb achieves the peak of orchestral expertise ... it has immense grandeur.' The Times
‘While the splendour of the LSO’s playing these days is no surprise, it’s a remarkable phenomenon even so. Haitink’s interpretation allows full scope for grand effects while keeping a tight rein on the works unfolding progress.’ Classic FM Magazine
Bruckner Symphony No 9
Bernard Haitink is widely recognised as the world’s leading conductor of Bruckner, so it comes as no surprise that his live-in-concert treatment of Bruckner’s boldest and most harmonically rich symphony makes it onto this list. From the colossal first movement to the sinister Scherzo and the tonal crisis that ensues in the final Adagio, Haitink is well at home in Bruckner’s ‘gothic cathedral of sound’.
‘This experienced Brucknerian – after some half century of devotion to the composer – holds all in control, and brings a welcome lightness and gleam to the second movement Scherzo. The LSO plays with a transparency and poise that cuts through even the most climactic, brass-laden fortissimos.’ The Observer
Brahms Symphonies Nos 1–4 Box Set
And for our final pick, a box set of all four of Brahms’ Symphonies. With these live-in-concert recordings from 2005, Haitink revealed his true mastery of Brahms’ intense and dramatic Romanticism. As The Observer put it, ‘not a nuance is misjudged, as Haitink takes us on a hair-raising version of the journey Brahms envisaged: long, scenic and never a dull moment.’
'[Disc four] is the crowning instalment in a series ... This ranks with such classic Fourths as Kleiber's, Karajan's and Toscanini's.'
'The opening bars of the [First] symphony, hammered out with real force and energy, set the tone for a fine, full-blooded performance ... hard to beat.'
Mail on Sunday
Bernard Haitink conducts a programme of Brahms, Adès and Mendelssohn on Sunday 15 and Thursday 19 October, with concerto performances by violinist Veronika Eberle.
> Sunday 15 October: Find out more and book tickets
> Thursday 19 October: Find out more and book tickets
Click here to see more on LSO Live.