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Haitink takes leisurely approach to pastoral

BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Conducted by Bernard Haitink.

With the Tanglewood Festival Chorus,

John Oliver, Conductor.

Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, "Pastoral,"

and Ravel's Daphnis and Chlo'e.

April 27 & 29 and May 2 at 8 pm. Today at 2 pm.

Discounted rush tickets available today and tomorrow only.

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By JONATHAN RICHMOND

ERNARD HAITINK'S APPROACH to Beethoven is traditional, and may leave those who insist on the high-speed high-energy products of the "authentic" performance movement restless.

But to those who feel that Roger Norrington's recent recording of the "Pastoral" speeds along the rural interstate without pausing to take a look at the countryside, or who find Christopher Hogwood's go-by-the-score effort just plain dull, Haitink's performance with the BSO last night (to be repeated three times over the next few days) will be refreshing.

Haitink took the "Pastoral" at a leisurely speed, the sort of pace (we hear from the composer's friend Schindler) Beethoven took during his forays into the countryside. The opening movement did start out on the slack side, but within a few minutes the expansiveness of Haitink's conception -- with lovingly warm strings and chirpy woodwinds -- became beguiling.

The second movement, "Scene at the Brook," was gently taken, its detail suggesting a rapture at the experience of nature. Textures were built to particularly attractive effect.

Despite some exciting playing from basses evoking the build up to the storm, the "Thunderstorm" should have had more energy; it lacked precision, too. The timpani should have been played with harder sticks, and with a more aggressive attack. The concluding Allegretto was done with lyricism and beauty, nonetheless, bringing the work to a happy conclusion.

A woman leaving Symphony Hall after the concert was heard to comment that the performance of Ravel's Daphnis and Chlo'e would have been nicer if it had ended 10 minutes earlier. Her companion dryly added that it would have been even better a half-hour shorter. Bernard Haitink certainly gave Ravel's ballet a grand format, and the conclusion was very gripping. There were passages, however, when the music seemed to lag and where the orchestra was not quite all together.

There were, on the other hand, many measures of exquisite wind coloration, and the Tanglewood chorus was on fine form, adding an element of the unexpected to the music and timing climactic passages to splendid effect. The onset of dawn was radiantly reflected in the BSO's strings. Overall, then, a satisfying concert, well worth attending.