In Wednesday’s (9/23) Guardian (London), Tom Service writes, “Most conductors dream of being the principal conductor of a big US orchestra, but Bernard Haitink seems to have harboured no such ambition.” Speaking about his work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Haitink “is disarmingly down-to-earth. But then, this is the conductor who said, at the time of his appointment, that ‘every conductor, including myself, has a sell-by date’. He has certainly not reached his: this summer, the 80-year-old Dutch-born maestro conducted the concert that, for me, was the highlight of the Proms—his performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra. This week, he brings the CSO to London for two concerts at the Royal Festival Hall; he is also planning a complete cycle of Mahler’s symphonies next season—and this while recovering from a serious back operation.” Haitink also enjoys an excellent relationship with Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra. “Concertgebouw members speak of him with reverence; no one seems to know exactly how he does it, because he doesn’t say much during rehearsals, but Haitink makes them play with more concentration, intensity and freedom. Simon Rattle says he can tell when Haitink has conducted his own orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, because they sound more relaxed, spacious and expressive.”

Posted September 23, 2009