Vienna Philharmonic / Bernard Haitink / Murray Perahia - Grosses Festspielhaus, 25 August 2012 (Salzburg Festival)
Many of this year's Salzburg Festival operas have been, for various reasons, disappointing. The concerts have been anything but.
I managed to rise before noon on a Saturday to hear Bernard Haitink take the reins of the Vienna Philharmonic in the same programme they are to perform at the Proms next week - Beethoven's fourth Piano Concerto, followed by Bruckner 9.
In Haitink's Bruckner, everything seems to fall naturally into place. But, like a dancer who makes the most impossible steps look easy, at the same time one is aware that there must be a lifetime of study and experience behind each perfect detail. He never pushed too hard or wandered off course, just let the work unfold itself. Some conductors give this work an almost operatic dimension, but Haitink draws it on a more conversational scale.
Perahia is an equally unshowy perfomer and his contribution melded with the orchestra's in perfect balance. Some slightly uneven playing in the first movement proved only a temporary distraction.