Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The Ninth Symphony. It's as if no other composer ever wrote a ninth symphony. Mentioning Beethoven's name is almost redundant.
For the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam it was the culmination Wednesday night of their two-week Beethoven Festival at the Kennedy Center. The line that formed for standing room three hours before concert time attested to the special place this symphony has.
The festival had included all the symphonies and piano concertos, and the Concertgebouw under conductor Bernard Haitink had played with a thorough musicality, a special attention to instrumental balance, a sound of matchless beauty and a profound understanding of the music.
All of this was evident in the performance of the Ninth, but it was just the beginning. Haitink seems to have taken upon himself the task of making clearly heard every inner voice and every change of tone color.
For this performance, the Concertgebouw was joined by soprano Faye Robinson, mezzo-soprano Beverly Wolff, tenor Jacque Trussel, bass Samuel Ramsey and the University of Maryland Chorus. From Ramey's triumphant "O Freunde" entrance, it seemed likely that the vocal forces would match the orchestra's excellence. They did and brought the festival to a glorious conclusion.