Here is my Saturday November 29 suntimes.com and Sunday November 30 Chicago Sun-Times review of the Friday November 28 Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert with CSO principal conductor Bernard Haitink and piano soloist Murray Perahia.
Haitink draws musical intensity from CSO
This weekend at Orchestra Hall, Haitink reminds us that he sees a concert program itself as made up of elements that connect and illuminate each other, as having a beginning, a middle and an end. Opening with Haydn's 1771 E minor Symphony No. 44 (Mourning), he used discipline and control Friday to make this one of the most expressive Haydn performances I can recall. Slow and fast movements, major and minor harmonies, play off of each other -- but Haitink knows that Haydn's is serious play.
Lutosławski is described as one of the great individualists of 20th century music, belonging to no school, writing works of complexity that are enjoyed by audiences resistant to atonal and serial methods. But Lutosławski saw himself as belonging to a great tradition of Western art music -- Beethoven's creations of long forms and Haydn's understanding of structure spoke directly to him even if he acknowledged that he heard these masters' works in a different way from others.
His popular Third Symphony was written for Sir Georg Solti and the CSO and was premièred here in 1983. Lutosławski's fourth and last symphony was delivered to the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1992 and first played with the composer conducting them in 1993, just a year before his death at 81 in his native Warsaw.
The Fourth, just 25 minutes long, is a distillation of many of this gentle and independent artist's interests -- two movements are played as one with a set of long lines weaving in and out of short outbursts and exchanges, volume ranges from great roars of the brass to near-silence. Haitink brings out the delicacy in this valedictory work in a way I have heard from no other conductor. While Lutosławski's interest in "psychological form" parallels the greatest postwar writing for film, Haitink knows these pieces don't need to sound like Leonard Bernstein's soundtrack to 1954's On the Waterfront.
The word pellucid must have been coined for the playing of London-based, Bronx-born pianist Murray Perahia (above, right), now 61. His approach since recovering from a series of hand problems matches that of his longtime colleague Haitink. At first, one wondered if Beethoven's 1805-06 Fourth Piano Concerto, in G Major, Op. 58, could offer as much beauty as precision in Perahia's interpretation, but soon we were off on a sort of intensely plotted magic-carpet ride. I can't think of any other pianist today who plays with such intellectual analysis and such heart while avoiding all eccentricities and displays of ego. A marvel.