Bernard Haitink conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Brahms’s great orchestral works, including the complete symphonies. The concertos feature three great soloists: pianist Claudio Arrau, violinist Henryk Szeryng, and cellist Janos Starker. "No one, I trust, will deny that Arrau has lived with, wrestled with, and in a truly terribly way ’known’ the D minor Concerto for more years than most of us can consciously recall. Where contemporary pianists have often tended to refine or domesticate the concerto, withdrawing it from the world of heroic endeavour, Arrau has always done the reverse. No pianist, apart possibly from Serkin in his several recordings, has communicated so formidably the work’s scope: its seriousness and its anxious, tragic mood. Often Arrau makes free with the text. But the vision is huge, the technique astonishing. Haitink is a worthy accompanist."
Anticipating the ultimate judgements of posterity can be a risky business, and yet in the case of Shostakovich concertos I'll risk putting my neck on the line by proclaiming the First Violin Concerto greater than the Second, and the Second Cello Concerto greater than the First.
Shostakovich's Second and Eleventh Symphonies are both inspired by Russian revolutions. The Eleventh Symphony, "The Year 1905", marks the bloody revolution of its namesake year. It is an astonishingly atmospheric symphony, of cinematic breadth, especially the second movement which depicts the Bloody Sunday massacre in St Petersburg.
Bernard Haitink has had a long association with Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 3 in D minor, from his classic 1966 stereo recording with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to his 2006 audiophile recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This 2016 release on BR Klassik finds Haitink leading the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in a stirring live performance that shows no diminishment of the conductor's interpretive powers, and compares quite well with his previous renditions.