Author Topic: Nikolaus Harnoncourt  (Read 19922 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Josquin des Prez

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3654
  • Lyric Suite, Opus131
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #40 on: April 11, 2008, 01:28:02 PM »
But when he started to conduct Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner, and after 3 our 4 very bad experiences (Beethoven's Nine Symphonies, Bruckner's 3rd above all) I never bought any new recordings of Harnoncourt.

His recording of Haydn's Paris symphonies is spectacular, so there's always hope. Then again, in his early Mozart cd he states that those early symphonies are as great as the latter one. No wonder he's so uneven here. 

Offline Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 19522
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #41 on: April 11, 2008, 08:33:52 PM »
Then again, in his early Mozart cd he states that those early symphonies are as great as the latter one. No wonder he's so uneven here. 

Agreed. It's unfortunate that the result has been opposite to his statement, I found that early symphonies set a real downer. Found the performances overly charged and abrasive, the music wringed for every ounce of seriousness. Maybe Harnoncourt should lighten up a bit! ;D

Q

Offline FideLeo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2109
  • 2 HIPs Hooray! ^_^
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #42 on: April 11, 2008, 08:56:38 PM »
.

Maybe Harnoncourt should lighten up a bit! ;D


Oh no! Then he wouldn't be Harnoncourt ("Ha! non coeur!" as I once saw it spelled by someone) anymore!
Some people have found him to be too much a contrarian, but I think it's just part of his scholarly personality.  :)
HIP for all and all for HIP! Harpsichord for Bach, fortepiano for Beethoven and pianoforte for Brahms!

johnQpublic

  • Guest
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #43 on: June 13, 2008, 11:02:51 AM »
So today I'm in my car tooling around and the finale of Schubert's 6th symphony is playing on the radio. It's a horribly slow version that drains all joy that's inherently in it and yet at times the conductor, without warning, leaps to a more normal allegro tempo only to jerk back, after a half minute or less, to a ponderously slow one.

The announcer said it was Harnoncourt.

I say avoid!  :'(

Don

  • Guest
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #44 on: June 13, 2008, 12:24:50 PM »
Why would any record label ever put such an image on a CD cover?  :D My friend reports that, if you move left and right, Harnoncourt's eyes follow you.

It beats a Brendel cover. :D

Offline (: premont :)

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 10051
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #45 on: June 13, 2008, 12:47:31 PM »
I think, he is variable, but he always has got some interesting to add, whether you like it or not.
As soon as a word has left the lips, not even the fastest horse can catch up with it.

Offline (: premont :)

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 10051
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #46 on: June 13, 2008, 01:16:55 PM »
Some people have found him to be too much a contrarian, but I think it's just part of his scholarly personality.  :)

Exactly, and for that reason he should not be regarded as an egomanic, like Gould e.g.
As soon as a word has left the lips, not even the fastest horse can catch up with it.

Offline Bunny

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1848
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #47 on: June 13, 2008, 04:09:21 PM »
I can't participate in this poll because the option I would choose isn't there.  When Harnoncourt is good he is great; when he's bad he's execrable.  He either soars or crashes -- there's no in between.  I buy his recordings hoping for greatness, and thankfully, enough of the time I find it.

Online Sergeant Rock

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 22840
  • Location: Wine Country Germany
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #48 on: June 14, 2008, 05:57:34 AM »
I love Harnoncourt. Even his "bad" performances are never less than fascinating. And when he's great, he's more than great...he is inimitable. Favorite performances:

Vivaldi The Four Seasons with the Concentus musicus Wien, his wife Alice violino principale: so raw and abrasive it completely wipes out all memory of horrible wine and cheese yuppie parties

Bach Brandenburg Concertos CMW, the first recording, 1964: sounds like the instrumentalists are learning to play their period instruments while they play  ;D ...still the most fun I've ever had with these Bach masterpieces

Mozart Requiem CMW: I've heard this requiem so often, over so many years, I thought I was immune to its effects. Ha! Harnoncourt's is such an emotionally devastating interpretation and performance, I can't listen to it very often. The first time I heard that lacrmosa...god...I went into what I thought was going to be a terminal depression. The music haunted me for days. This is, to me, the definitive version of this masterwork.

Haydn Missa in tempore belli "PAUKENMESSE" CMW  Harnoncourt plays it for what it is: a mass not to celebrate a victory but to show us the horror and pity of war. The percussion explosion is truly an example of "shock and awe", the vocal parts emoted for maximum emotional effect

Schubert Symphonies Complete Concertegebouw: no dainty Schubert here but powerful, compelling performances. After reading JohnQ's remark above, I relistened to the Sixth's finale. The initial tempo is entirely in character with the music and the "moderato" marking. We know that Harnoncourt never does anything arbitrarily but bases his performance decisions after a thorough study and this sounds right to me. When the brass outburst shatters the peace, the subsequent increase in speed once again seems thoroughly justified by the music if not the score (which I don't have and can't verify). A delightful and powerful performance in my opinion.

Smetana Má vlast Wiener Phil:  I've been less convinced by Harnoncourt's Romantic performances (still trying to come to grips with his Bruckner--I have 3 and 9; just recently acquired all his Dvorak except the Dances...sounds good but not quite great on first hearing; working on it) so this was a shock: one of the great Má vlasts, even darker, sadder than usual

Monteverdi L'Orfeo and L'incoronazione di Poppe Long time favorites (have the LPs too) that subsequent versions have not been able to topple

Mozart Symphonies 39, 40, 41 Chamber Orchestra of Europe: monumental Mozart that I put on par with Szell's Mozart

Mozart Die Entfürung aus dem Serail Zürich Oper: Watch out for that Turkish percussion battery...it will blow you out of your seat!  :D

Haydn Paris Symphonies CMW

Mozart Horn Concertos CMW, Baumann

Haydn Armida CMW with Bartoli and Pregardien


My major problem with Harnoncourt is his Bach choral music. I'm allergic to male altos and boys so these performances are not for me, much as I regret it.

Sarge
« Last Edit: June 14, 2008, 07:06:03 AM by Sergeant Rock »
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline DavidRoss

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 7590
  • Location: Northern California
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #49 on: June 14, 2008, 08:58:31 AM »
I like very much.  In considering a new recording, if he has one available it will certainly go onto my short list.  I like his Beethoven, his Mozart, his Bach, and his Dvořák--yet I cannot think of much (the SMP, perhaps) where his is my first choice among recordings.  Based on Sarge's contribution above, perhaps I should give his Schubert a try.
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

M forever

  • Guest
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #50 on: June 14, 2008, 10:05:06 AM »
Schubert Symphonies Complete Concertegebouw: no dainty Schubert here but powerful, compelling performances. After reading JohnQ's remark above, I relistened to the Sixth's finale. The initial tempo is entirely in character with the music and the "moderato" marking. We know that Harnoncourt never does anything arbitrarily but bases his performance decisions after a thorough study and this sounds right to me. When the brass outburst shatters the peace, the subsequent increase in speed once again seems thoroughly justified by the music if not the score (which I don't have and can't verify). A delightful and powerful performance in my opinion.

My impression is that Harnoncourt did that to underline the basic idea behind the symphony: it was Schubert's response to the Rossini fever that had broken out in Vienna. The symphony is at the same time an homage, a parody, a slightly sarcastic but good natured fun commentary on the popular Italian composer's early minimalist music. The slightly grotesque feel the opening of the finale has is brought out very well in this way, also the completely pointless ascending and descending dotted rhythm motives and all the other Rossini-isms that Schubert concocted here.

I completely disagree with Harnoncourt's decision though to fade out the final chord of the Great C major symphony which has come in fashion with some interpreters since it was discovered that the > marks in the autograph are very long. Some interprete that as an actual descrescendo, some think it is just a strong accent. I think it is the latter. The descrescendo, after this extremely energy-laden and forward propelled movement sounds weird, as if somebody deflates a balloon. But apart from that, the performance is simply mindblowingly good, well played and extremely stylish.

Offline Rod Corkin

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 565
    • Classical Music Mayhem
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #51 on: June 14, 2008, 10:29:14 AM »
I voted 'terrible' on the basis of his horrific Handel recordings.
"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin
https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/classicalmusicmayhem/

M forever

  • Guest
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #52 on: June 14, 2008, 11:03:18 AM »
Have you also heard his Elgar recordings? Man, these are even worse.

It also speaks heavily against him that instead of recording Händel's complete works, he wasted way too much time on performing and recording music by totally irrelevant and marginal composers such as Bach, Mozart, Haydn, even Beethoven...

Offline Rod Corkin

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 565
    • Classical Music Mayhem
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #53 on: June 14, 2008, 11:16:36 AM »
Have you also heard his Elgar recordings? Man, these are even worse.

It also speaks heavily against him that instead of recording Händel's complete works, he wasted way too much time on performing and recording music by totally irrelevant and marginal composers such as Bach, Mozart, Haydn, even Beethoven...

Well he recorded quite a few Handel pieces actually, but considering their aforementioned horrific nature it is a blessing he did not record the complete works. Though I doubt you will ever see an anywhere near complete Complete Works of Handel edition. But I wouldn't say those other composers are 'irrelevant', really you've got to expend your horizons a bit M.
"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin
https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/classicalmusicmayhem/

M forever

  • Guest
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #54 on: June 14, 2008, 11:21:53 AM »
You are right, Händle is not the only composer who wrote relevant music. I am also a big collector of the music of Buxtehude. Still, why should I listen to Beethoven, for instance? The guy couldn't even hear. And what kind of strange name is that anyway?

Back to Härnöncöürt and Handel, I mean Harnoncourt and Händel (sorry my keyboard was stuck there for a moment), what exactly constitutes the aforementioned horrificness of his Händel recordings?

Online Sergeant Rock

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 22840
  • Location: Wine Country Germany
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #55 on: June 14, 2008, 11:42:26 AM »
I voted 'terrible' on the basis of his horrific Handel recordings.

Thank god I ran out of time when making my list. I was about to include Harnoncourt's Samson and Utrecht Te Deum when Mrs. Rock called me away. That was a close call....I could have been severely scolded by the Corkster.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Rod Corkin

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 565
    • Classical Music Mayhem
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #56 on: June 14, 2008, 11:45:58 AM »
You are right, Händle is not the only composer who wrote relevant music. I am also a big collector of the music of Buxtehude. Still, why should I listen to Beethoven, for instance? The guy couldn't even hear. And what kind of strange name is that anyway?

Back to Härnöncöürt and Handel, I mean Harnoncourt and Händel (sorry my keyboard was stuck there for a moment), what exactly constitutes the aforementioned horrificness of his Händel recordings?

Utterly square direction, utterly horrific singing, appalling sound quality. Not all H's fault I admit, but his direction alone is simply unacceptable.

What would you say is wrong with his Elgar?
"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin
https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/classicalmusicmayhem/

M forever

  • Guest
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #57 on: June 14, 2008, 11:49:42 AM »
Harnoncourt completely fails to realize the multi-dimensional vibrational fields in his Elgar performances. He does manage to create some vibrational fields, but only along the X axis (time) not along the Y axis (harmony) and therefore, his Elgar readings are one-dimensional and flat.

What exactly did you mean by square direction and unacceptable?

Offline Daidalos

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 311
  • Narcissus
  • Location: Stockholm, Sweden
  • Currently Listening to:
    Brahms
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #58 on: June 14, 2008, 11:57:10 AM »
You are right, Händle is not the only composer who wrote relevant music. I am also a big collector of the music of Buxtehude. Still, why should I listen to Beethoven, for instance? The guy couldn't even hear. And what kind of strange name is that anyway?

Back to Härnöncöürt and Handel, I mean Harnoncourt and Händel (sorry my keyboard was stuck there for a moment), what exactly constitutes the aforementioned horrificness of his Händel recordings?

M, from your posts in this thread and elsewhere, I've gathered that you're quite an admirer of Harnoncourt's. I wonder, have you had an opportunity to hear/see his interpretations of Mozart's da Ponte operas? I like the Don Giovanni that he performed with Rodney Gilfry in the title role quite a bit (but Cecilia Bartoli's Elvira I can do without), however I'm having considerable difficulty warming to his approach to Le Nozze di Figaro. I have the DVD version with Carlos Chausson as Figaro, Isabel Rey as Susanna, Eva Mei as the Countess and Rodney Gilfry as the Count, and while I find it admirable in many respects, sometimes it seems to lack something of a sparkle (unfortunately vague description, admittedly). I have also heard some numbers from his more recent offering with Netrebko as Susanna, and I get that same feeling of dissatisfaction that I can't quite place. Since I usually find Harnoncourt to be revelatory in pretty much anything he conducts, I don't know how to tackle my lack of enthusiasm for his Mozart operas. Have you any experience with Harnoncourt in these works?
A legible handwriting is sign of a lack of inspiration.

M forever

  • Guest
Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
« Reply #59 on: June 14, 2008, 12:08:16 PM »
Why should I waste my time with Mozart when there is so much Händel, Buxtehude, and Elgar still to be discovered? Mozart's operas are just one-dimensional, superficial, and badly orchestrated entertainment. I prefer to listen to "The Dream of Gerontius".