Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Before this week Bernard Haitink was little known to this city's audiences. He had conducted here only three or four times. But from the bravos that simply would not stop at the end of Tuesday night's third concert in the Kennedy Center's Beethovan festival, there could be no doubt in his mind that audiences have discovered that he is indeed a major conductor.
The ovation followed a performance of the "Eroica" Symphony that for both clarity of sound and of musical logic simply could not be beat. Haitink is an unostentatious Beethovan interpreter. His object seems to be to let the composer speak for himself as clearly as possible. And Tuesday night one heard literally countless details that almost always get lost.
This is not to say, however, that Haitink's Beethovan is cold. In fact, his very broad reading of that peak of passionate expression, the "Eroica" funeral march, was very moving.
Just as stirring was the slow movement of the third piano concerto, with soloist Vladimir Ashkenazy, who is performing the five concertos in this Beethovan festival. It was played like a mournful ode, and it put the music in a fresh and more profound perspective.
The orchestra was Haitink's Amsterdam Concertgebouw, one of the very best, which - like conductor and pianist - is a fortunate choice in what is unfolding to be the most successful festival of music yet done by the Kennedy Center.