Author Topic: Harnoncourt's Mozart  (Read 318 times)

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Offline lordlance

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Harnoncourt's Mozart
« on: August 30, 2022, 06:05:50 AM »
What sort of tuning does Harnoncourt use for his CMW Mozart set: https://open.spotify.com/album/7DCZ3xzUuObEEqwdYbuQdY | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuQcFC8rink (Sample first minute of third movement)

Why is the string sound... off? Is it a tuning that no other HIP ensemble uses? It's distinct.

A side question: HIP ensembles sound different because they use different instruments right? And by that I know that wind instruments were valve-less so they sounded different, the cover on timpani were made from animal skin instead of plastic and the stick used for hitting the timpani was different as well. Aren't violins all "period" because all the Stradivarius instruments are prized by violinists everywhere and they don't sound different to modern violins. I know minimal vibrato is what contributes to the HIP sound.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2022, 10:41:21 AM by lordlance »

Offline Spotted Horses

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Re: Harnoncourt's Mozart
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2022, 06:14:55 AM »
The Stradivarius instruments used in conventional performance have been significantly modified to support the greater tension created by steel strings. This, I believe, involves replacement of the bridge and perhaps internal reinforcement of the structure to support the neck. A violin set up for PI performance will be in its original configuration with gut strings. The modern bow is also different from the bow used in Mozart's time and requires a different bowing technique.

Modern performances conventionally tune to A=440 Hz and period performances typically tune to a lower frequency, although the relative tuning of the strings on the instruments are the same.

Offline lordlance

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Re: Harnoncourt's Mozart
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2022, 10:40:59 AM »
The Stradivarius instruments used in conventional performance have been significantly modified to support the greater tension created by steel strings. This, I believe, involves replacement of the bridge and perhaps internal reinforcement of the structure to support the neck. A violin set up for PI performance will be in its original configuration with gut strings. The modern bow is also different from the bow used in Mozart's time and requires a different bowing technique.

Modern performances conventionally tune to A=440 Hz and period performances typically tune to a lower frequency, although the relative tuning of the strings on the instruments are the same.


Ah I had no idea. Thanks for explaining these things.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Harnoncourt's Mozart
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2022, 11:54:34 PM »
I know it’s not in that set, but I wonder if you think he sounds out of tune in music with no strings, like Gran Partita. Where I’m coming from is that I think there’s more to it,  and that there’s timing and microtonal shenanigans going on, that’s to say, the players are adjusting the notes they form, and when they form them, to create a more scrunchy ensemble sound.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2022, 11:58:52 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Harnoncourt's Mozart
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2022, 01:25:13 AM »
The Gran partita and the two other large scale wind serenades are exceptions as they were done with modern instruments.
In any case, in most of the older "Das Alte Werk" LPs and CDs all the instruments used are listed with maker, date and for copies both the modern maker and the original instrument.

tbh I don't remember what pitch they used, 415 (instead of 440) Hz is very common but there are some variations (425, 430, some even below 400, I think), although this is also noted on most such recordings.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Spotted Horses

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Re: Harnoncourt's Mozart
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2022, 04:30:36 PM »
The Gran partita and the two other large scale wind serenades are exceptions as they were done with modern instruments.
In any case, in most of the older "Das Alte Werk" LPs and CDs all the instruments used are listed with maker, date and for copies both the modern maker and the original instrument.

I've had those Harncourt recordings since they were new releases, but I falsely remembered that they were PI performances by the CMW.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Harnoncourt's Mozart
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2022, 11:31:16 PM »
There is personnel overlap with the people playing woodwinds in the Concentus musicus but the "Wiener Mozart Bläser" (ad hoc name, I am sure) uses modern instruments. I don't know why but I could imagine that in the early 1980s not all of them felt sufficiently comfortable with the older instruments especially in a pure woodwind/horns piece where intonation issues might multiply.
Harnoncourt recorded most of the wind concerti (except flute, I believe) and several "mixed ensemble"/orchestral serenades with the CM a few years later.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2022, 11:52:55 PM by Jo498 »
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline MusicTurner

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Re: Harnoncourt's Mozart
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2022, 03:25:57 AM »
I own both the Concertgebouw set, and that early symphonies set, and enjoy both a lot.

I also have the religious vocal works box, but haven't listened that much to it. His Posthorn Serenade with the Dresden Staatskapelle is glorious, and the Horn Concertos with Baumann good too.

Idomeneo (apparently not that convincing), a fine Lucio Silla, and a bit more too.

I don't have the piano concertos with Gulda.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2022, 04:05:19 AM by MusicTurner »

Offline Jo498

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Re: Harnoncourt's Mozart
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2022, 03:48:01 AM »
I am not too familiar with his Mozart opera recordings although I own several of them.
There are of course considerable differences in sheer sound (and supposedly also tuning) between the Concertgebouw and the Concentus Musicus recordings. There are maybe some later (live) recordings I am not aware of but for me the most "normal", i.e. least "Harnoncourtish" sounding Mozart is in fact the Haffner and Posthorn serenade with the Staatskapelle Dresden. Maybe it's also because of the recording venue and technicians as I think some of the early 1980s Concertgebouw recordings sound uncommonly "harsh" because of early digital technology.
IIRC the much later disc with clarinet/oboe/flute+harp concerti also sounds quite conventional despite using old instruments whereas the wind serenades mentioned above have many "mannerisms" or oddities in tempo, articulation etc. so they sound unconventional despite modern instruments.

One central point that can be both pro or contra depending on the listener seems to me that Harnoncourt takes all the serenades he recorded (not all, but quite a few), all the early Salzburg symphonies and sacred music by the teenaged Mozart completely seriously. So they will sometimes lack charm, elegance etc. conventionally associated with Mozart.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline lordlance

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Re: Harnoncourt's Mozart
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2022, 12:20:57 PM »
Is the answer simply tuning then?

Sample his Symphony 25: https://open.spotify.com/track/0DFvKjwouFPU0TI2YNCL5G?si=d3354e9aea5b491b
With another HIP record: https://open.spotify.com/track/5ciCs5BMG0U7J06dsOzutA?si=304ee2f336924171 or (pseudio-HIP) https://open.spotify.com/track/2TsUn1kh3cheCxRAAdQvJU?si=cbc8adc8a9dd402f

Harnoncourt strings has more harshness which is really only with his Mozart that I've heard.

A second question: What about the brass? They also sound different with Harnoncourt like at 00:10 in the link that I share or notice their prominence in the opening: https://open.spotify.com/track/1AI4IUQiqZ6diF0pSyXOMh?si=7e1a68ab7b144ed5

Did he just favor highlighting brass? There's something about the way Harnoncourt makes brass sound.