Saturday, 8 September 2012

A Memorable Concert from Bernard Haitink and the Vienna Philharmonic at the BBC Proms

This season has seen many wonderful visiting orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly and the St Louis Symphony Orchestra under David Robertson.

But it was an inspired choice to have the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink bring the BBC Proms towards its conclusion in the penultimate concert of the season last night (7th September 2012).  www.bbc.co.uk/proms   www.wienerphilharmoniker.at

The Vienna Philharmonic brought their wonderful string sound to Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in an affectionate performance conducted by Bernard Haitink. Even in the rustic third movement menuetto there was a civilised sound to the music making.

In the finale the orchestra surged forward in a truly spirited allegro spritoso giving a wonderful conclusion to the work. Haitink certainly knows how to bring out the humour and joy of Haydn’s last symphony.

For all the enjoyment of this beautiful performance I still had a nagging feeling that Haydn should have a little more grit, but perhaps that’s just my personal taste affected by the period instrument movement. Nevertheless this was a lovely performance.

The VPO really came into their own in Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony where those wonderful strings brought a warm glow to Strauss’ writing. The horn section was really something to hear, particularly in ‘On the Summit’ where the orchestra made an overwhelming sound.

There were beautiful woodwind sounds just before ‘Thunder and Storm’ and what a storm it was. As the work drew to a close those beautiful Vienna strings brought the most wonderful glow of sunset to a magical conclusion.

Haitink’s concept was largely broad but it allowed the orchestra the freedom to do their best in bringing out all of Strauss’ beautiful detail.

Another Strauss, this time Johann Strauss II, gave us the encore in one of his waltzes as only the VPO could do. A memorable concert.

This concert can still be heard on BBC iPlayer but you will need to play it through a good quality audio system to hear it to the best effect.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01mf9jt/BBC_Proms_2012_Season_Prom_75_Haydn/

See other Prom reviews:

Last Night of the Proms 2012 with Nicola Benedetti, Joseph Calleja and Team GB’s Olympic medallists

BBC Prom - Max’s Ninth, fine Delius from Tasmin Little and an Impressive Shostakovich Tenth from Vasily Petrenko

Subtle Saint-Saëns from Benjamin Grosvenor at the Proms

A Battlefield at the Proms

Handel’s Water Music and Fireworks Music as they should be played

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