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Customer Review

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bruckner in the Living-Room, 23 July 2013
This review is from: Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 (LSO / Haitink) (Audio CD)
Having been impressed by Haitink's recent surveys of Bruckner's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies with various German orchestras, it was time to chance my arm one more time by listening to his live performance of the Fourth with the London Symphony Orchestra. In doing so, I was deeply conscious that his expositions from 1965 and two decades later are well played, conscientious and dull as dishwater.

Bruckner's Fourth, above all, seeks to strip away the detritus of modernity, thereby reverting mankind to a realm where we - like our ancestors - are liegemen to signs, portents and totemic powers, be they benevolent or otherwise. If you have ever been out in the forest by yourself - yes, completely and utterly by yourself - roofed by constellations at night, bereft of mobile-coverage and coffee machines alike and surrounded by any number of critters that can send you to Boot Hill, this dynamic will be familiar to you. Goodbye lip-gloss and heated car-seats - hello Otherness. Your frequent-flyer points: you won't need them.

Yet again Haitink fails signally to evoke any genuine terror and awe from this miraculous symphony. Not once was I transported back to Megalithic times where stone rings were raised to propitiate powers-that-be and gods illuminated all phenomena. Karajan and Celibidache made four recordings of the Fourth between them and each of them evokes 1 Million BC (alas, without the young Raquel Welch in train). Haitink is no hierophant: here is exhibit number three. Nor is his cause served by a run-of-the-mill recording and an orchestra which is highly competent and no more.

If you are seeking a thoughtful and polished Bruckner Fourth, your journey ends here. Settle into your arm-chair. Open a red. There are worse ways to while away an hour. Or alternatively, stride into the forest. Something old and new awaits you.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Jul 2013, 12:58:27 BST
D. S. CROWE says:
The 5 Star reviewer entitles his review " Haitink at his Best". Sadly, as your review so ably elucidates, that is true. Performance after performance in recent years by Haitink can only be described as stultifying-especially Bruckner. I actually had to stop listening to his 8 with Dresden on Profil and his RCO live version-nearly put me off the work.
The LSO (I'm in for it here!) is NOT an ideal Bruckner orchestra, especially in the much improved but still ropey Barbican acoustic! Haitink has always been aware of his tendency to be stolid rather than inspired-he frequently asks friends after a concert " was it too Dutch?" I don't if this one is too Dutch, but it's certainly too Dull to contemplate- and the playing is not all that. Yes, he is an old warrior, and we should be eternally grateful for the legacy of great music making that he has bequeathed us-but this performance is certainly not part of it. 1 star too generous Bernard. Bang? Kabooomm! As ever, S!

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jul 2013, 19:58:54 BST
Stewart, you should really reissue this perceptive comment as a review in its own right. B
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

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