Bernard Haitink has been one of the most successful and popular figures in the world of classical music since the 1960s. Before he announced his retirement from the concert circuit in 2019, he was one of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s most important guest conductors for over 50 years. Through recordings of concerts, rehearsals and personal conversations, our film portrait provides an insight into the intellectual world of Haitink, who describes music as his “elixir of life”.
Gustav Mahler’s Seventh Symphony is characterised by a mysterious and romantic mood, with the second and fourth movements bearing the designation “Nachtmusik”. The finale, however, is one of the composer’s brightest and most optimistic conceptions. Alongside Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle, Bernard Haitink has been the defining Mahler conductor in Berliner Philharmoniker concerts in recent decades. His performance of the Seventh was given in May 1992 during an entire series of performances of Mahler’s symphonies.
With dance rhythms and exciting instrumental combinations – from piano trio to cor anglais quartet to viola ensemble – the members of the Berliner Philharmoniker bid farewell to their audience for the summer break. This also marked the end of the Berlin Phil Series, which made it possible to get together despite contact restrictions. After works by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Étienne Perruchon and Jean Françaix, tangos by Astor Piazzolla in a recording with the 12 Cellists formed an extraordinary concert finale.
The music of the Baroque period represents a unique combination of tonal splendour and vibrant lightness. However, it is only occasionally performed in the everyday concert life of a symphony orchestra – and so this programme with solo concertos by Bach, Handel and Vivaldi is a particularly welcome rarity. The appeal of this episode of the Berlin Phil Series is further enhanced by the fact that members of the orchestra can be enjoyed here as soloists.