Farewell Bernard Haitink

Bernard Haitink's farewell concert in the Concertgebouw on Saturday 15 June in the NTR Saturday Matinee was called historic in advance. And historic it was. At the height of his powers, Haitink completed the circle. He ended gloriously with the orchestra where he started as chief in 1957: the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Concertgebouw was filled to the last seat, including the extra chairs on the stage and the seats next to the organ case. The programme included songs by Richard Strauss, with soprano Camilla Tilling, and Bruckner's Seventh Symphony - one of Haitink's favourite works.

It was the combination, the confluence, the culmination and whatnot.
The 90-year-old maestro: superior, carried by his musicians, always at the service of the music. The awareness: the farewell of one of the world's greatest conductors. The music itself: mastered to perfection, sublimely interpreted. After the final chord: Haitink forced a few seconds of silence and then it erupted. Cheering, wild applause, tears everywhere.

Bernard Haitink - Photo by Simon van Boxtel
Bernard Haitink - Photo by Simon van Boxtel

From the press

Farewell Maestro!
"The five songs by Richard Strauss were given a wonderfully glowing and characteristic performance in which Haitink emphatically set his own tempo. The last two songs - Die heiligen drei Könige aus Morgenland and Morgen - were of the highest category. Not in the least because of soprano Camilla Tilling, who sensed the extra dimension of this concert very well and gave it a place in her singing. But the real highlight was of course the performance of the Seventh Symphony by the acknowledged Bruckner specialist that Haitink has been for decades. A performance where the highlights are carefully built up and the whole is never lost sight of.
ferdidelange.blogspot.com - 16 June 2019

Conductor Bernard Haitink was alert, sovereign and unforgettable until the last beat
"The intimate Morgen, originally composed as a wedding present, sounded here in a sublime, spun-out reading (wonderful solo by concertmaster Joris van Rijn), as a much more universal declaration of love to all of life, with pianissimi that shimmered with melancholic intensity."
NRC - Mischa Spel - 16 June 2019

Haitink's farewell was not an ordinary concert, but the end of an era
"No speeches, no sea of flowers, no medals, decorations or certificates. That was Bernard Haitink's express wish for Saturday's concert. He wanted a concert that was as ordinary as possible, even if it happened to be his very last in the Netherlands. [...] This was not a concert, but the end of an era, where music by Richard Strauss and Anton Bruckner happened to be played. And yes, prior to that tumultuous and emotional end, that music was at the centre of attention, just as Haitink wanted it to be."
Trouw - Peter van der Lint - 16 June 2019

Haitink bids farewell with magical afternoon
"By choosing the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra for his farewell concert [in the Netherlands], he completed the circle. He was always partial to symbolism. The fact that he said adieu with the RFO in the NTR Saturday Matinee is therefore significant. It underlines his thoughts on the quality, but certainly also the vulnerability of the broadcasting companies and of the Matinee as an unparalleled concert series; unique in the world. Cherish this, Haitink seemed to want to say to the good listener.
Parool - Erik Voermans - 15 June 2019

The farewell of Bernard Haitink in the Concertgebouw is the afternoon of gratitude
"This is the afternoon of gratitude, this gathering is a presentation of an invisible oeuvre prize. One more time, we see Haitink make those gestures that everyone knows, like that quick Z in the air. We see his right hand shoot up sharply and then make a soft landing - vintage Haitink. [...] The orchestra reacts to every movement. We are carried along. But suddenly the realisation dawns: those repeating figures in the brass announce the end."
De Volkskrant - Merlijn Kerkhof - 15 June 2019

 

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