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The Music Room => General Classical Music Discussion => Topic started by: PerfectWagnerite on December 28, 2007, 05:55:11 PM

Title: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on December 28, 2007, 05:55:11 PM
So he's gone from Bach to Bruckner and Brahms and Schumann. WHere do you guys think Harnoncourt is going next? You think he'll try his hand at Wagner or Mahler or maybe Verdi? That ought to be interesting. Anyone with the inside scoop on where crazy Nick is going next?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: 12tone. on December 28, 2007, 07:19:49 PM
So he's gone from Bach to Bruckner and Brahms and Schumann. WHere do you guys think Harnoncourt is going next? You think he'll try his hand at Wagner or Mahler or maybe Verdi? That ought to be interesting. Anyone with the inside scoop on where crazy Nick is going next?

Xenakis.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on December 28, 2007, 10:05:45 PM
Harnoncourt hasn't just gone from Bach to Bruckner, during the past 50+ years, he has studied/played/conducted his way through large parts of our music history from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
In his explorations of 19th century music, he has concentrated mostly on the German/Austrian repertoire, but also Dvořák (which is not that far from the German/Austrian repertoire though), but he has done some Verdi (Requiem, Aida) though and some other works in areas of the repertoire not usually associated with him, such as Franz Schmidt's Das Buch mit den Sieben Siegeln and some Bartók (Divertimento, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta). Whatever he does next, I hope he still will do Bruckner's 6th, and maybe the 1st and 2nd as well (that would be a complete cycle then). Janáček would be an interesting composer to hear from him, maybe also Strauss.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: PSmith08 on December 28, 2007, 10:14:31 PM
Harnoncourt hasn't just gone from Bach to Bruckner, during the past 50+ years, he has studied/played/conducted his way through large parts of our music history from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
In his explorations of 19th century music, he has concentrated mostly on the German/Austrian repertoire, but also Dvořák (which is not that far from the German/Austrian repertoire though), but he has done some Verdi (Requiem, Aida) though and some other works in areas of the repertoire not usually associated with him, such as Franz Schmidt's Das Buch mit den Sieben Siegeln and some Bartók (Divertimento, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta). Whatever he does next, I hope he still will do Bruckner's 6th, and maybe the 1st and 2nd as well (that would be a complete cycle then). Janáček would be an interesting composer to hear from him, maybe also Strauss.

It seems that his recording of Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln was shelved before it had any chance to take root in the States. That was indeed a shame, especially now that the Mitropoulos disc is OOP, since that work deserves all the advocacy it can get. 
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: knight66 on December 29, 2007, 01:08:01 AM
Sometimes his revisionism is not greatly appreciated; his Verdi is far from mainstream. However his take is invariably interesting, the Verdi Requiem for example was simply unlike anyone else's. So all that new light is valuable, I should think other conductors will absorb bits of what he presents to us.

I think Carmen would benefit from him and Stravinsky would surely be fascinating. Perhaps he has already performed some of the latter, though I can't find any.

Mike

Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on December 29, 2007, 05:39:23 AM
I think Harnonourt conducted Carmen at the Styriarte Festival in Graz in 2005. Haven't heard any recordings of that though. Ihave the Verdi Requiem but haven't listened to it enough yet to form an opinion. His recordings of Brahms, Bruckner, Dvořák and Smetana were certainly highly interesting and musically very good. I had the good fortune to hear most of the Brahms symphonies and also Schubert 4 and Schumann 4 with him in Berlin; all of the above performances were recorded by Teldec. Those were all great musical events, the electricity in the air was so strong you could have measured it. There is a reason top orchestras like the Wiener and Berliner Philharmoniker and the Concertgebouworkest love playing under him. Whatever one thinks about his musical views and ideas in general or in particular works, there is no doubt Harnoncourt is one of the very best conductors around today. He has a better knowledge and understanding of how an orchestra works and breathes (especially the latter) than most, and the way he conducts completely registers with the players, as is very obvious when you watch him in concert or on video. This is why his peformances, as well reflected and prepared as they usually are, are also very "live". He is not afraid to take risks when he wants certain effects, and he knows when and where to let the music flow and when to propel it forward or structure it.

I have a live recording of Janáček's "Eternal Evangelium" with him and the WP which I will post when I get around to it, maybe tomorrow. The recording of Bartók's Divertimento and Music for... with the COE is also worth checking out.

So all that new light is valuable, I should think other conductors will absorb bits of what he presents to us.


What most conductors should definitely absorb or at least take an example of him is the seriousness with which he approaches the music he performs. What he does may not always make sense to everyone (it doesn't always to me either), but it is obvious that there is always a lot of study and reflection behind it, in addition to a theoretical and practical understanding and performance experience in several centuries worth of repertoire which is probably completely unparalleled by any other "classical" musician active today. So his contributions are definitely always welcome and most of the time interesting and relevant. Certainly much more interesting and relevant than many contributions from conductors (young and old, but especially young) who don't even have a fraction of the experience and knowledge but feel well equipped to tackle anything in the repertoire, often with just a few superficial ideas and little concept of the music they are "performing". It is all too easy these days for overhyped posers to set themselves in scene when most orchestras can autopliot through nearly everything anyway.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on December 29, 2007, 06:10:46 AM
He's such a teaser sometimes. Sometimes he turns in performances like the Paris Symphonies that do not remotely resemble anything in the catalog. Then you get something like his Bruckner 7th sort of expecting something radical and get a pretty mainstream (but excellent) performance.

I'd love to see him first finish a Bruckner cycle. What's he missing now, #6? He'd probably not record 1 and 2.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: knight66 on December 29, 2007, 06:50:17 AM
M, I should think you will get a lot of pleasure from the Verdi recording. I wrote quite a long review of it, but cannot track it at the moment. It worked against expectations set up by more traditional performances, but produced a wonderdul luminosity and the mood of the performance is unique from any I have previously heard.

Mike
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on December 29, 2007, 07:34:24 AM
I wish I could find it! Verdi's Requiem is one of my alltime favorite choral pieces. I just watched a video with Fabio Luisi and the MDR Sinfonieorchester in the reconstructed Frauenkirche in Dresden which is more "conventional", I guess, but a really nice performance, so I wanted to check out Harnoncourt's recording, but I couldn't find it in the chaos that my CD collection is in now...  ::) Well, I guess I'll make another attempt later  8)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: knight66 on December 29, 2007, 07:51:13 AM
Not anything I can do to help there. I know what the cover looks like, haha, so...as I said, no help. But it is a performance that lives in the head where many others don't; despite my feelings I would not recommend it as a first or only performance in someone's collection.

Mike
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Lilas Pastia on December 29, 2007, 08:36:01 AM
Athough I like his Requiem, I much prefer his Aida. Feeble soloists apart, the chorus and orchestral work in this recording are revelatory. Too often this opera is recorded with hastily assembled and ill-matched 'hot name' soloists, with predictably ho-hum results. Here the crushing forces of politics and religious fanaticism are overwhelming. There's nothing like it anywhere in the catalogue.

I've heard all his Bruckner symphonies recordings but I haven't been won over by the results. I find it hard to detect any particular vision or indeed affinity with the composer. The same goes (for me, that is) of his Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Dvorak. Although efficient and well conceived, very little of his 'german classic-romantic' music recordings has offered a challenge to older masters. Szell, Böhm, Jochum, Bernstein and Karajan all impart that music with a sharper profile. He definitely knows how to bring out the best in the orchestras he conducts, but the results are surprisingly variable. For some reason, I find his work in Amstrerdam the most interesting and satisfying. I think his conducting style is particularly well suited to the strongly individualized sections of that orchestra.

At the moment the only Bruckner I wish he would give us is the Te Deum. This is music that he was born to conduct. And a Glagolitic Mass would certainly be soemthing I'd rush to buy. A long shot but an interesting one: Sibelius symphonies.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Que on December 29, 2007, 08:47:31 AM
I've heard all his Bruckner symphonies recordings but I haven't been won over by the results. I find it hard to detect any particular vision or indeed affinity with the composer. The same goes (for me, that is) of his Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Dvorak. Although efficient and well conceived, very little of his 'german classic-romantic' music recordings has offered a challenge to older masters. Szell, Böhm, Jochum, Bernstein and Karajan all impart that music with a sharper profile. He definitely knows how to bring out the best in the orchestras he conducts, but the results are surprisingly variable. For some reason, I find his work in Amstrerdam the most interesting and satisfying.

We have the same experience , Lilas. Anything German baroque, especially Bach, and I'm sold on Nikolaus. Same with his Haydn and a fair amount of his Mozart. I mostly admire but am rather unsettled about other things he did.

Q
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on December 29, 2007, 09:44:36 AM
What do you mean by unsettled?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Que on December 29, 2007, 10:05:34 AM
What do you mean by unsettled?

Undecided, ambivalent, it doesn't always feel quite 100% "right". One the one hand there is much to admire, and he does bring out very interesting things on the pieces he does. On other other hand, but this is clearly subjective, I hear often more scrutiny than affinity. At time he can be frustratingly fussy and too insistent/deliberate. (For the record: I've heard his LvB, some Bruckner - notably the 5th, and the Schubert and Brahms symfonies).

Q
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Todd on December 29, 2007, 10:15:32 AM
I have mixed results with Harnoncourt - like pretty much every other conductor - but I must say that I find the idea of him conducting Janacek quite intriguing.  Boulez's pending From the House of the Dead followed up by anything by Harnoncourt, but especially the Sinfonietta or The Makropulos Case, would make me think anew about Janacek.  I think Harnoncourt might be nice to hear in Webern or Schoenberg, too, and, for no easily explained reason, I think he would do well in some Martinu.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Lilas Pastia on December 29, 2007, 05:26:28 PM
Undecided, ambivalent, it doesn't always feel quite 100% "right". One the one hand there is much to admire, and he does bring out very interesting things on the pieces he does. On other other hand, but this is clearly subjective, I hear often more scrutiny than affinity. At time he can be frustratingly fussy and too insistent/deliberate. (For the record: I've heard his LvB, some Bruckner - notably the 5th, and the Schubert and Brahms symfonies).
Q

I couldn't put it better. And this is not meant to disparage his art at all. I actually admire the relentless curiosity and wholehearted mindpouring he brings to all his musical endeavours. I have the feeling that with those composers he's been spending decades with, his musicianship is unparalleled and the musical results are just so authoritative as to silence criticism (other winners I might have mentioned: his K. 427 and Creation, both with the Concentus Musicus, Wien).

With his more recent "discoveries" the process is still not complete. Which is not to say that he doesn't score a hit here and there (his Aida and, I'm sure, a potential Te Deum - I can just sense it brewing in the air: a recording is coming, I'm almost sure :D).

A lot of his 19th century german repertoire music-making sounds just plain incomplete. I bought and speedily sold the Brahms piano concertos (with Buchbinder). Very musical and superlatively done. In French we say léché - not an easy translation, but "slick and perfectly put together au goût du jour" would convey the meaning.

What I keep in mind is that Harnoncourt (like Callas, Bernstein, Karajan and Boulez) is one of the driving forces of the post 1950 musical scene. Nobody asks these musical Prometheuses to succeed in everything, and we should be grateful for whatever they brought to the classical music scene that willl never be the same, thanks to their genius.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on December 30, 2007, 04:52:09 AM
Hmm...some interesting (and, actually surprising) remarks there. I have to think about some of these before I reply. In the meantime, I found the CDs of the Verdi Requiem - the reason I couldn't find them in my collection before was that I had already set them aside in my "to listen to" pile... ::)

For now, just one question for Lilas:
A lot of his 19th century german repertoire music-making sounds just plain incomplete. I bought and speedily sold the Brahms piano concertos (with Buchbinder). Very musical and superlatively done. In French we say léché - not an easy translation, but "slick and perfectly put together au goût du jour" would convey the meaning.

And it didn't occur to you before you "speedily" sold the disc that maybe you simply didn't get what Buchbinder and Harnoncourt did there, and why? Don't you think there is a good chance that someone who actually has grown up in the middle of that music tradition and who has performed this kind of music since before you were born - your idea that somehow Harnoncourt somehow only discovered the 19th century repertoire more or less recently is pretty funny, after all, he is from Vienna and as a cellist played a lot of that repertoire in the "traditional" style, including in the orchestra under the direction of many of the "old masters" even before he started his period performance exporations - anyway, that someone with that kind of background might actually know a thing or two, or a thousand more about this music than you over there in Canada? What is your basis for deciding his "19th century German repertoire music-making" is "incomplete"? And what does that mean? Do you think you have a complete understanding of that musical tradition and its cultural context? That appears rather unlikely to me.

Nobody really has, not even the people who come from right in the middle of it. That is basically where Harnoncourt comes in and what makes his contributions so interesting, namely that they have a lot of context and even though he questions and revises a lot of things, he is still very firmly rooted in the musical tradition he comes from. That may not be obvious to you, but it is to the people who actually understand that traditional cultural context. Which is why he is actually so well respected by orchestras as firmly rooted in those traditions as the ones from Vienna, Amsterdam and Berlin that he has done most of his work in the bigger symphonic repertoire with.

Which does't mean on has to actually "like" everything he does. I don't either. But it strikes me as a bit silly when someone says this is put together "au goût du jour". You obviously don't understand the depth and context of that. What surprises me though is that you don't realize that and speedily get rid of material that doesn't conform with your apparently clichéed and superficial ideas about German/Austrian music. My impression had been so far that you were a more interested and adventurous listener and explorer of our musical culture. I was wrong, apparently. Well, your loss.


Anyway, here is a rare live recording of Harnoncourt conducting Janáček: "The Eternal Evangelium", a cantata, with Luba Orgonášová, soprano, Ľudovít Ludha, tenor (and yes, the accent on the L is in the right place, starnge, but that's the way it is, I googled it!), Ivan Kusnjer, baritone, the Czech Philharmonic Choir and the Wiener Philharmoniker. Sound quality isn't that great, but not too bad either:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/2e4ols
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: hautbois on December 30, 2007, 06:18:14 AM
Anyway, here is a rare live recording of Harnoncourt conducting Janáček: "The Eternal Evangelium", a cantata, with Luba Orgonášová, soprano, Ľudovít Ludha, tenor (and yes, the accent on the L is in the right place, starnge, but that's the way it is, I googled it!), Ivan Kusnjer, baritone, the Czech Philharmonic Choir and the Wiener Philharmoniker. Sound quality isn't that great, but not too bad either:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/2e4ols

THANKYOU!

Howard
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Lilas Pastia on December 30, 2007, 08:48:19 AM
Anyone's opinion is the expression of a transitory state of mind. I couldn't care less how mine is perceived at this point in time. It's just my opinion, and that's how I take others' too. Hopefully I'll still be learning for many, many years, and I may well look back and be surprised at some things I have thought or said. Actually, I look forward to that. And obviously artists go through the same process. What I admire in Harnoncourt is his incessant probing of music as an act of communication. He is not just a performer, but a fascinating musical thinker.

I should be listening to his new version of the Christmas Oratorio in the coming days. BTW this DHM production is not a patch on the old Teldec one. Notes are okay but much less detailed, and there is no text :P. I suppose the folks at DHM figure that printed texts are expendable since they're easily found on the net  ::).
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: rappy on December 30, 2007, 04:32:48 PM
In an interview he said that he will never conduct Strauss because he had had so much talent ("maybe the most gifted composer after Mozart") and didn't use it, as well as he will never conduct Mahler and Berlioz because they are too egoistic.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Lilas Pastia on December 31, 2007, 02:22:36 PM
This is very interesting. It would imply that he considers a composers' character when making his choices? I wonder if he has other mental/aesthetic/moral restrictions? Too bad about his refusal to conduct Berlioz. This is another logical 'fit' for a musician of such wide interests and open mind. I notice he's never conducted any Russian or French repertoire and yet I'd definitely welcome a Pathétique, Pictures or d minor symphony from him. I can't imagine him doing Elgar though :D

BTW and just for the record, the reason I didn't like (actively disliked as a matter of fact) the Brahms piano concertos set is that IMHO it lacked flow. I understand it's an elusive concept, but in the case of Brahms there's a very thin line between being borne aloft on a surge of romantic tone and getting bogged down in the thickets of his harmonic and rythmic complexities. It has nothing to do with a preference for fast or slow Brahms. Gilels-Jochum achieve flow within a very grand, unhurried conception. Donohoe - Svetlanov (in 1) and Magaloff-van Otterloo (in 2) achieve grandeur within a volcanically surging framework. I recognize I could have sat on it and unearthed the set when I had "grown up" artistically, but my reaction was more that of a protest. But again, I honestly can't explain in technical terms what "faults" I found in these interpretations. Blame it on my genes, cultural background or (horror!) non-european origin if it makes anyone feel better. I've never much liked the Serkin-Szell or Barenboim-Barbirolli versions either. And yet, they are from old school, old world musicians born and steeped in the idiom, "firmly rooted in those traditions".

Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: ChamberNut on April 09, 2008, 06:55:02 AM
What are your thoughts on Nikolaus Harnoncourt as a conductor?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Morigan on April 09, 2008, 07:41:49 AM
While I love his Beethoven... His recent Nozze di Figaro DVD for the 2006 Salzburg festival was so horrible that I wanted to claw my eyes out and tear my ears off.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Que on April 09, 2008, 07:47:04 AM
Harnoncourt is a genius, but jut like any other conductor he doesn't always hit the nail right on the head.

He excells in: Bach, other German Baroque composers and Haydn.

Partly excells in: Mozart

Always interesting and fascinating but rather odd in: Beethoven and Romantics like Schubert, Bruckner and Brahms. His Verdi Requiem is just plain weird....

Q

Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: springrite on April 09, 2008, 07:51:17 AM
Harnoncourt is a genius, but jut like any other conductor he doesn't always hit the nail right on the head.


A couple of times, I thought he hit the nail right on the head.
Other times he hit the head right on the nail.

Overall, I do like him. At least he is usually never boring.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Brewski on April 09, 2008, 07:52:48 AM
My impressions of Harnoncourt are mostly overwhelmingly positive.  His Dvořák Slavonic Dances with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe is brilliant, one of my favorite recordings of anything.  I also love his Bruckner, Dvořák and Haydn symphonies, all with the Concertgebouw.  And someone here just had nice things to say about his Bartók, also with the COE--a disc that somehow slipped by me since it came out in 2004.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: hautbois on April 09, 2008, 08:02:51 AM
I am honestly biased, so i rank highly most of his output that i own, but admittedly, he has no precision at times in his conducting, and that mean hitting and missing, and he does both equally well.  ;D I agree with Que on the Verdi Requiem...it was just...b...a....d....

Although i am tempted to say everything he has every recorded, here are some of my favourite Harnoncourt recordings:
(http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0825646022120.jpg) (http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0745099749026.jpg)
(http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0745099748920.jpg) (http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0825646232321.jpg)
(http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0825646976485.jpg)
(http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0639842448826.jpg) (http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0828766074925.jpg)
(http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0828765433228.jpg) (http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0706301712627.jpg)


And of course, the legendary:
(http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0825646377923.jpg)

Howard

*p.s. is the bias obvious now?  ::)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Bonehelm on April 09, 2008, 09:54:16 AM
Love his classical/Baroque output but not his romantic ones...never liked HIP romantics anyway.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: bassio on April 09, 2008, 01:37:22 PM
I need to listen to his Classical.

Also more of his Bach.. to form a final opinion.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Mozart on April 09, 2008, 01:58:36 PM
Harnoncourt uses strange tempos, just to be different. I don't really like it.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: val on April 09, 2008, 10:38:37 PM
Very good some times, very bad in others.

He was remarkable with the Concentus Musicus in Bach's Cantatas, Zelenka, Fux and the sublime versions he gave of Monteverdi's operas, in special Orfeo (with Koszma) and L'incoronazione di Poppea (with Berberian, Donath).

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.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: FideLeo on April 09, 2008, 11:41:42 PM
(http://img524.imageshack.us/img524/5443/00331582hx6.jpg) (http://imageshack.us)

Finally a scholarly conductor, very nice!  (I don't prefer dictators on the podium at all.)
Stalwart of HIP movement in Vienna.  I think his Monteverdi Rameau etc. is clunky, but
Haydn Mozart w/Concentus is sublime (especially live).  His Dvorak and Bruckner are
beautiful performances also.

Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: hautbois on April 10, 2008, 08:11:24 AM
Harnoncourt uses strange tempos, just to be different. I don't really like it.

Which brings an important and controversial point. Since recordings are meant to capture a moment in time where a performance is deemed to be valuable and worth leaving a legacy, is creativity no longer relevant? If ten Beethoven cycles have the same tempi and similar approaches in sound culture and such, why is it necessary to release another? Classical music after all, at least nowadays, do not make money at the same rate or enjoy popularity as how commercial pop artists do. Music itself is a creative art, from the composer's point of view, and to a certain extand, the performer's point of view.

When a performance is deemed good, is it good because it is historically correct (for certain composers, we will ever know anyways), or is it because we hear something interesting that has not been heard before, or is it because someone else told you it's good. Harnoncourt is wild, he does the craziest things, you might say that he does that just to be different, but we all know that to say so is plain ignorance. (The term HIP to describe his Romantic music performances are just bad stereotyping, a lack of understanding of the art itself.) The problem with the classical music scene today is the lack of creativity and freshness, musicians are becoming more and more timid so to say, students graduate from conservatories not wanting to take risks, orchestras who don't work hard and hate taking new ideas, etc. Yet, positively, technology has brought many advantages to the classical music world, and they are thankfully being taken advantage of. (Wonderful websites like RCO's, CSO's etc.)

Harnoncourt hits and misses, but then again, we are left with a legacy of hits that will surely be enjoyed by many generations to come.

Howard
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: jochanaan on April 10, 2008, 04:24:35 PM
Excellent point, and excellent post, hautbois!  Like you, I tend to prefer performances that exercise some creativity.  And no one can accuse Harnoncourt of being less than scholarly. :) I love his Schubert symphonies with the Concertgebouw. :D
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Bogey on April 10, 2008, 05:28:59 PM
I put great.  With the music of his I have explored I have always been very pleased.  Que, have you heard his Mozart Requiem disc yet?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Renfield on April 10, 2008, 05:39:00 PM
I put great.  With the music of his I have explored I have always been very pleased.  Que, have you heard his Mozart Requiem disc yet?

Stupendous performance, that one. And it well-illustrates why I also voted "Great". :)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Brian on April 10, 2008, 06:43:23 PM
(http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0706301712627.jpg)


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.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Renfield on April 10, 2008, 06:56:18 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's true! :o

No, really, I find that cover ridiculous myself. But the performance inside is far from it, thankfully. ;)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Que on April 10, 2008, 08:28:39 PM
I put great.  With the music of his I have explored I have always been very pleased.  Que, have you heard his Mozart Requiem disc yet?

Yes, I have - very impressive and definitely great Harnoncourt, as are his late Mozart symphonies.

Q
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: bassio on April 11, 2008, 12:58:52 PM
When a performance is deemed good, is it good because it is historically correct (for certain composers, we will ever know anyways), or is it because we hear something interesting that has not been heard before

It is good when you like it  ;)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Josquin des Prez 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. 
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Que 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
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: FideLeo 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.  :)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: johnQpublic 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!  :'(
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Don 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
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: (: premont :) 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.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: (: premont :) 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.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Bunny 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.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Sergeant Rock 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
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: DavidRoss 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.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever 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.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Rod Corkin on June 14, 2008, 10:29:14 AM
I voted 'terrible' on the basis of his horrific Handel recordings.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever 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...
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Rod Corkin 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.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever 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?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Sergeant Rock 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
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Rod Corkin 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?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever 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?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Daidalos 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?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever 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".
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Don on June 14, 2008, 12:55:40 PM
Utterly square direction, utterly horrific singing, appalling sound quality.

That sounds like a recording I could be associated with.  I think Harnoncourt is a big improvement over Don.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: (: premont :) on June 14, 2008, 01:01:04 PM
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


Or what might be still worser: To be sandwich´ed between Corkster and Mforever. It demands a bit of navigating to avoid that, I am sure.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 14, 2008, 01:15:36 PM
Or what might be still worser: To be sandwich´ed between Corkster and Mforever. It demands a bit of navigating to avoid that, I am sure.

A fate worse than a Turkish prison  ;D
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on June 14, 2008, 04:40:41 PM
Here is an interview with Harnoncourt about Haydn. A friend just sent me that. Apparently it is from a Gramophone CD - so, yes, it is in English. I haven't had much time and concentration to listen to all of it but spotchecks here and there sounded pretty interesting. Harnoncourt has a lot to say about this subject, so you may find it interesting, too. It's a fairly big file (78MB) but it's over 1/2 h, and it includes music examples!

http://tinyurl.com/5ezay4
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: johnQpublic on June 14, 2008, 10:57:30 PM
Well, I just read pp.203-204 of the current May/June issue of Fanfare magazine. Below is the opening portion of Mortimer Frank's review of Harnoncourt's "Marriage of Figaro". Many of the descriptions are what I heard in the Schubert's 6th finale. I've bolden the words that reflect my reaction to his Schubert.

In 1993, Harnoncourt recorded a complete Marriage of Figaro in Amsterdam, a performance released two years later by Teldec. Commenting about it in 18: 4, Ralph Lucano noted, “Harnoncourt plods through most of the opera.” I had the opportunity to review that release elsewhere and agreed. Now, in this new release of a 2006 live performance given in Salzburg—“the sensation of the season” a promotional blurb stuck on the plastic casing informs us—things are even worse. This is a willful, plodding Figaro, aria after aria drained of all its lilt, energy, and wide emotional range. In many cases what one hears is ludicrous. Take for example Figaro’s “Non più andrai” at the close of the first act. Here at least it is not too distended by an uncomfortable breadth. But its basic rhythm is never stable, its ruptures of pulse are disturbing, and its occasional shouting totally inimical to anything that might be termed musical.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: PSmith08 on June 15, 2008, 12:05:24 AM
Well, I just read pp.203-204 of the current May/June issue of Fanfare magazine. Below is the opening portion of Mortimer Frank's review of Harnoncourt's "Marriage of Figaro". Many of the descriptions are what I heard in the Schubert's 6th finale. I've bolden the words that reflect my reaction to his Schubert.

In 1993, Harnoncourt recorded a complete Marriage of Figaro in Amsterdam, a performance released two years later by Teldec. Commenting about it in 18: 4, Ralph Lucano noted, “Harnoncourt plods through most of the opera.” I had the opportunity to review that release elsewhere and agreed. Now, in this new release of a 2006 live performance given in Salzburg—“the sensation of the season” a promotional blurb stuck on the plastic casing informs us—things are even worse. This is a willful, plodding Figaro, aria after aria drained of all its lilt, energy, and wide emotional range. In many cases what one hears is ludicrous. Take for example Figaro’s “Non più andrai” at the close of the first act. Here at least it is not too distended by an uncomfortable breadth. But its basic rhythm is never stable, its ruptures of pulse are disturbing, and its occasional shouting totally inimical to anything that might be termed musical.

I would be interested to learn Mr. Frank's 'ideal' Figaro. Harnoncourt had the same score that everyone else has used (unless he's using some sort of new and "improved" critical edition, the value of which is usually debatable - viz. Wilkens' revision of the Mahler 1st from 1995), and, while his approach may be unorthodox or non-trivial, to call his efforts "totally inimical to anything that might be termed musical" bespeaks a critic unwilling to deign to approach Harnoncourt's approach on its own terms. There is a sort of orchestral (or, more broadly, musical) Konzept at work in Figaro that sort of goes hand-in-hand with Claus Guth's direction as I understand it. Mr. Frank seems either unwilling (as I said above) or, worse yet, unable to appreciate that and what it means for the music involved. I dare warrant that Harnoncourt had put more thought into that Salzburg Figaro than Mr. Frank has put into most major decisions in his life. His criticism betrays as much.

Harnoncourt's Figaro unmusical? I could make some very uncharitable comments about the source of such criticism in a broad sense, but my sense of decorum prevents me from doing so (also, my appreciation of Ciceronian rhetoric lends me to the charge by allusion).

Now, for all I know, his Schubert might fit the comments above, but I am - I confess - not as familiar with that as I am with his 2006 Figaro.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Rod Corkin on June 15, 2008, 01:22:59 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?

Little or no sense of the music's natural rhythm and momentum. For a composer like Handel these things are particularly important and because of this I deem his direction unacceptable. I hope this meets with your satisfaction.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Marc on June 18, 2008, 02:00:20 PM
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...

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?

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.

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".

;) :) :D ;D

After I stopped laughing (thank you, M), I thought: do I have some opinion upon mr. Harnoncourt myself? Well, yes I do, for what it's worth: I LIKE HIM!
I'm not always comfortable with his interpretations, but maybe that's the reason he keeps me interested in his recordings and performances. When I read all the negative reviews about H.'s performances of Mozart, Beethoven or whatever genius, I always think that listeners nowadays 'know' this music so very very good, that they don't want to be disturbed by it any more. IMHO, Mr. Frank is proving this with his reactions to H.'s Figaro. There's always a sense of "hey, you fool, what are you doing to my music? This is not my Mozart! Stay away from him!"
But Mozart is not anybody's property. You only need your ears to be refreshened once in a while; there's nothing wrong with that.
I must admit I'm just a boring lucky dude: for instance in Mozart or Beethoven, I enjoy listening to Böhm, Karajan and Harnoncourt (to name but a few) .... and I'm happy with that.
But, whether H. is right in his interpretation or not, maybe he's able to give us something of the same feelings as lot of the audiences experienced when they listened to this music for the first time, long long time ago.

BTW: I like Buxtehude, Händel and Elgar. I even might try Harnoncourt's recording of Messiah some day.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: johnQpublic on June 18, 2008, 02:06:38 PM
Now I do like this Harnoncourt Mozart. It's full of subtle nuances without distortion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC2ePGkmopg
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Rod Corkin on June 19, 2008, 05:52:43 AM
I even might try Harnoncourt's recording of Messiah some day.

You even might as well throw your money down the toilet and flush. If you want Messiah, at the moment you have to go for Pinnock's.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: pjme on June 19, 2008, 06:04:20 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/416Y0S1SGRL._SL500_BO2,204,203,200_PIlitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_AA240_SH20_.jpg)

This will help in understanding his thoughts.
P.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Marc on June 19, 2008, 06:19:33 AM
[...] I like Buxtehude, Händel and Elgar. I even might try Harnoncourt's recording of Messiah some day.

You even might as well through your money down the toilet and flush.

Yep, I might, but why flush? Pecunia non olet! ;)

If you want Messiah, at the moment you have to go for Pinnock's.

Yep, I know, I already went for that one long time ago.
It's my favourite Messiah-recommendation, too.
But, as I wrote before: I feel that I need my ears to be refreshened. I will gladly (?) take the risk of them being destroyed. :-\

But really, I'm not afraid anything damaging will happen. As I mentioned before: I like Harnoncourt.

Well, every man has his shortcomings.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on June 19, 2008, 06:36:51 AM
If you want Messiah, at the moment you have to go for Pinnock's.

I find it interesting that you recommend Pinnock here who is a very good craftsman but rather shallow musician. His approach to the question of historical performance style is simply not to have one, he has everything played on period instruments, it is all done impeccably and very smoothed off, but his music making is as featureless and polished as that of many other interpreters who play on modern instruments and who just play the notes "as written". While his band is nice to listen to (it really is, I heard them two or three times in London and once in Berlin), there isn't much musically interesting substance going on. One would have thought that someone who seems to spend a whole lot more time listening to this particular composer than most people do would have come up with a more interesting recommendation. But then my impression has always been that while you may "specialize" in Händel to a certain extent, your comments about other composers make it look like your perception of music is very shallow and narrow, so the reason you like Händel is because his music is fairly easy listening and immediately attractive, easier to get into than a lot of other composers whose music is too difficult and too complex for you to grasp, so your interest in Händel doesn't seem to be based on real appreciation of his music's merits (of which there are plenty), but simply because it is so accessible. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The question is then why do you feel the urge to talk crap about a lot of other music which you obviously don't "get"?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Marc on June 19, 2008, 06:55:43 AM
Anyway, as much as I liked that first movement of KV 550 by Harnoncourt/Wiener Phil, the poster on the YouTube-site did have something of a point: the sound quality wasn't all that good. It sounded like a mediocre dutch local broadcasting recording.
Nevertheless, I downloaded it and enjoyed listening to it again. And, being an admirer of Harnoncourt, I also intend to give his Messiah a listen. Am I forgiven for that?

Or do I need another Brian to explain what my posting is all about?

Brian?
Messiah?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Brian on June 19, 2008, 01:43:21 PM
Brian?
Messiah?
(http://garotasquedizemni.ig.com.br/archives/life_of_brian.jpg)

He's not the Messiah! He's a very naughty boy!

 ;D
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on June 20, 2008, 10:09:55 PM
Here is an interesting live recording of the "Haffner" symphony, from a concert in 2000 at the Salzburg Festival. Harnoncourt conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker. The sound quality is decent radio quality, not spectacular, but quite listenable.

http://tinyurl.com/6qkmdl
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Marc on June 21, 2008, 12:48:28 AM
An important Classic back in the catalogue!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bach-Passion-Max-van-Egmond/dp/B0013N4446

It was withdrawn from the catalogue some years ago, maybe because of the discussion between the Gillesberger family and Harnoncourt? Was the 'Gesamtleitung' by G. or H.?

Maybe this matter is finally solved?

Anyhow: a well-deserved return for this one. Early Years HIP. IMHO, it's essential listening for anyone interested in performances of Bach's vocal music.

It was one of the first classical performances I hired at the library as a kid, after being blown away by a Harnoncourt live performance of the SJP on Dutch radio. A friend of mine who had a very good HiFi set, offered me his 'goodies' and I copied it on his MC deck. I wasn't able to make him interested in Bach, though. Sweet memories. :)

Some years later I bought this brown coloured 2nd(?) edition of the LP box second-handed for a couple of Dutch florins, being very happy with the well-preserved quality, and made a copy of it on MiniDisc.

I'm not sure: should I buy this re-issued CD-set, too? It surely belongs in my Bach 'library'.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Que on June 21, 2008, 01:03:14 AM
I'm not sure: should I buy this re-issued CD-set, too? It surely belongs in my Bach 'library'.

Absolutely.  :)
Still my favourite Johannes, good to see it back in the catalogue.

In fact, I'll probably buy it because my current of the 1st CD issue (same brown cover as the LP's) has the tendency to skip right at the start (luckily not all the time). Unfortunately I couldn't find a replacement any more at the time.

Q
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on June 21, 2008, 10:27:46 AM
11 downloads already, yet no one says "thank you, M"? Harry, Que - where are your manners? I thought you were so "civilized"? Didn't your parents teach you to say thank you to nice uncles who give you something (and, of course, not to take stuff from nice unlces you don't know)?

Any opinions on the live recording? I am working on developing one. I find this recording interesting, but I am less convinced by it than by other Mozart symphonies performances by Harnoncourt. I can't quite put my finger to it though and say exactly why. I have to think about that some more.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Que on June 21, 2008, 11:16:08 AM
Harry, Que - where are your manners? I thought you were so "civilized"? Didn't your parents teach you to say thank you to nice uncles who give you something (and, of course, not to take stuff from nice unlces you don't know)?

Well, nice uncle.. 8)  I will thank you for the compliment! :)
And besides that: nice try, but I did not download the file you provided...

Q
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: (: premont :) on June 21, 2008, 11:23:09 AM
An important Classic back in the catalogue!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bach-Passion-Max-van-Egmond/dp/B0013N4446

It was withdrawn from the catalogue some years ago, maybe because of the discussion between the Gillesberger family and Harnoncourt? Was the 'Gesamtleitung' by G. or H.?


Thanks for informing us. I used to own this on vinyl, but gave it away, and did not manage to aquire it on CD in time.

Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on June 21, 2008, 11:26:24 AM
Well, nice uncle.. 8)  I will thank you for the compliment! :)
And besides that: nice try, but I did not download the file you provided...

Q

Well, you definitely should. Especially since you have such a one-dimensional understanding of the whole "HIP" thing. I think it might be very good for you to download and listen to that, and process it, even though it is not on "original instruments".
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Que on June 21, 2008, 11:30:58 AM
Well, you definitely should. Especially since you have such a one-dimensional understanding of the whole "HIP" thing. I think it might be very good for you to download and listen to that, and process it, even though it is not on "original instruments".

Ahh, but I already have and very much enjoy Harnoncourt's Mozart with the Concertgebouworkest. Not exactly "original instruments" either...

Q
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: (: premont :) on June 21, 2008, 11:35:53 AM
Que, in a few minutes M will suggest you to read Harnoncourts: Musik als Klangrede.
His standard cure for ignorants like us.

Quote
...since you have such a one-dimensional understanding of the whole "HIP" thing.

Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on June 21, 2008, 11:47:49 AM
Que, in a few minutes M will suggest you to read Harnoncourts: Musik als Klangrede.
His standard cure for ignorants like us.

One of my favorite movie quotes: "Baka ni tsukeru kusuri wa nai na" (from "Yojimbo", in the scene in which Mifune (or rather, his character...) confronts the bandits in the street and hacks one guy's arm off, the scene which was later quoted in the cantina scene "Star Wars"). Fits perfectly here.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on June 21, 2008, 11:49:31 AM
Ahh, but I already have and very much enjoy Harnoncourt's Mozart with the Concertgebouworkest. Not exactly "original instruments" either...

Indeed not. How did that happen then? Did you buy that by accident?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Marc on June 21, 2008, 01:14:55 PM
11 downloads already, yet no one says "thank you, M"? Harry, Que - where are your manners? I thought you were so "civilized"? Didn't your parents teach you to say thank you to nice uncles who give you something (and, of course, not to take stuff from nice unlces you don't know)?

Any opinions on the live recording? I am working on developing one. I find this recording interesting, but I am less convinced by it than by other Mozart symphonies performances by Harnoncourt. I can't quite put my finger to it though and say exactly why. I have to think about that some more.

Well, thank you! (There you have it.)
I am finally able to download files of this size, because since only a short time I have a modern 'normal' speed internet connection. (But my old-fashioned hard-disk is almost filled - with a lot of nonsense.)
I even listened to it, although I was suffering a severe headache this afternoon. But Mozart is always good to me when I'm in agony. Therefore I listened to his music a lot these last days. ;)
After listening I also took some pain killing pills, and my headache went when watching Russia - The Netherlands. 'We' lost that, by the way.

What do I remember from this half-agonized listening session this afternoon? I thought it was certainly an inspired perfomance. Nevertheless I also have the feeling that in this 18th century music Harnoncourt is on a more 19th century larger tone compared to his earlier years, although I find it very difficult to explain that feeling. Let's just say I felt it sounded more like a Beethoven symphony compared to earlier H. performances.
I have some H. recordings with the KCO A'Dam on CD, and some on MC with the Chamber Orchestra Europe. I think his recordings with the KCO are the most exciting.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Don on June 21, 2008, 01:24:54 PM
I dare warrant that Harnoncourt had put more thought into that Salzburg Figaro than Mr. Frank has put into most major decisions in his life.

That's an unfair statement with nothing to back it up unless the writer has some intimate knowledge of Frank's life decisions. 
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on June 21, 2008, 01:27:49 PM
Well, thank you! (There you have it.)
I am finally able to download files of this size, because since only a short time I have a modern 'normal' speed internet connection. (But my old-fashioned hard-disk is almost filled - with a lot of nonsense.)
I even listened to it, although I was suffering a severe headache this afternoon. But Mozart is always good to me when I'm in agony. Therefore I listened to his music a lot these last days. ;)
After listening I also took some pain killing pills, and my headache went when watching Russia - The Netherlands. 'We' lost that, by the way.

What do I remember from this half-agonized listening session this afternoon? I thought it was certainly an inspired perfomance. Nevertheless I also have the feeling that in this 18th century music Harnoncourt is on a more 19th century larger tone compared to his earlier years, although I find it very difficult to explain that feeling. Let's just say I felt it sounded more like a Beethoven symphony compared to earlier H. performances.
I have some H. recordings with the KCO A'Dam on CD, and some on MC with the Chamber Orchestra Europe. I think his recordings with the KCO are the most exciting.


You don't have to say thank you. M enjoys giving freely out of the kindness of his heart.

 0:) 0:) 0:)

Compared to his earlier Amsterdam recordings, this actually seems a little less "big" to me but apart from that, I agree there is a distinctly different tone and feel to this performance which does seem to have more echoes of Schubert and Beethoven in it than before. It appears to me that Harnoncourt is looking at this music back in time through these and other 19th century composers whereas earlier with the KCA (although without the "K" at that time) he looked forward in time to it through other classical and baroque composers. Or maybe this is completely nonsense. I find it difficult to put my finger to it.


That's an unfair statement with nothing to back it up unless the writer has some intimate knowledge of Frank's life decisions. 

He became a critic. That's a very unfortunate life decision. So we know enough.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Don on June 21, 2008, 01:32:05 PM

He became a critic. That's a very unfortunate life decision. So we know enough.

What's with the "we"?  Do you speak for anyone other than yourself?

Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: PSmith08 on June 21, 2008, 01:36:13 PM
That's an unfair statement with nothing to back it up unless the writer has some intimate knowledge of Frank's life decisions. 

It is not necessary, though it would be sufficient, to know anything about Mr. Frank's life. His "criticism," though to apply that term to his comments might be giving them more than they're due, should be a broad-enough sample to get a good read on the man given their particular character. As to the unfairness issue, I was being charitable with my original reaction to his opinion.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Marc on June 21, 2008, 01:59:52 PM
Compared to his earlier Amsterdam recordings, this actually seems a little less "big" to me [....]

You're right. Larger wasn't the proper word for what I actually meant. Can one say in English that a musical performance is broad, or, in this particular case broader?
If so, than that's what I meant.
BTW: the recordings with the CO (rightly so, without the 'K', but here in Holland and Amsterdam we never use the 'A' for Amsterdam) indeed sound bigger, but also rougher and, to my ears that is, more exciting. I recall some very striking interpretations of the menuetto's for instance, with fast outer movements and very slow trio's.

[....] but apart from that, I agree there is a distinctly different tone and feel to this performance which does seem to have more echoes of Schubert and Beethoven in it than before. It appears to me that Harnoncourt is looking at this music back in time through these and other 19th century composers whereas earlier with the KCA (although without the "K" at that time) he looked forward in time to it through other classical and baroque composers. Or maybe this is completely nonsense. I find it difficult to put my finger to it.

Well, to name some 19th century composers: somehow I felt that the first movement was Beethoven, the second was Schubert, the third almost sounded like a romantic pianist who plays Chopin with daring rubati :), and the fourth was Mozart.... finally. Or maybe this is completely nonsense. I find it difficult to put my finger to it. :)

We (= Harnoncourt, M forever, myself, GMG members and all other nowadays listeners and performers) live in the 20th/21st century, and therefore I think it is extremely difficult to perform an 18th century musical masterpiece exactly in so-called 18th century manner. It's also almost impossible to listen to it in that way. Concerning Mozart's compositions that would mean: with only knowledge of music of f.i. Händel and Haydn. We all have in some way the music of Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Mahler, etc. in the back of our heads. But I agree with you: H. has played a lot of 19th century music during the last decade-and-a-half-or-so, and I think it has influenced his style of music playing throughout all earlier periods and styles. But that makes it worthwhile to keep our ears pointed at artists like that. They never really sound the same.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Que on June 21, 2008, 11:08:16 PM
Indeed not. How did that happen then? Did you buy that by accident?

Yes, perhaps I bumped my head a got temporarily (in)sane? ;)

I guess it must be a mystery, at least in "The world according to M"... ;D

Q
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: scarpia on June 22, 2008, 05:52:04 AM

Harnoncourt's recordings of the Mozart Symphonies with the Concertgebouw are a revelation, they transformed my view of Mozart.  It became so obvious that Mozart wanted his music played this way, with wide dynamics, aggressive attacks, prominent brass and winds, dramatic outbursts.  After that I could never be satisfied with polite, sissified Mozart performances.  I've come across a few conductors who have done comparably well, but non that have topped Harnoncourt, IMO.

Ahh, but I already have and very much enjoy Harnoncourt's Mozart with the Concertgebouworkest. Not exactly "original instruments" either...

Q
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: FideLeo on June 22, 2008, 03:51:26 PM
Harnoncourt's recordings of the Mozart Symphonies with the Concertgebouw are a revelation, they transformed my view of Mozart.  It became so obvious that Mozart wanted his music played this way, with wide dynamics, aggressive attacks, prominent brass and winds, dramatic outbursts.  After that I could never be satisfied with polite, sissified Mozart performances.  I've come across a few conductors who have done comparably well, but non that have topped Harnoncourt, IMO.


In context of another thread begun by Johannes, the word "revelation" in your post above got me thinking: are H's "wide dynamics, aggressive attacks, prominent brass and winds, dramatic outbursts" pleasurable for you to listen to?  Indeed many people's primary critique of his performances is that they are ugly.  However, speaking for myself, they give me immense pleasure, for being exciting, setting my adrenaline running etc.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: scarpia on June 24, 2008, 06:32:51 AM

I find nothing ugly in Harnoncourt's performance, and share your experience that they are often thrilling.  To my mind, those who say such things about Harnoncourt's Mozart performances simply don't like Mozart, they want it to be some sort of gentle  music in the background as they do more important things, like clip their toe nails.  I see no reason to accept the idea that Mozart didn't want to take full advantage of the dynamic capabilities of the instruments that were at his disposal.  The fact that the brass and  horn parts of Mozart orchestral music become so brilliant when played aggressively supports this.   For instance, in Mozart's symphony #40, 1st movement (notably in the transition to the second theme in the recapitulation, if I recall correctly) there are horn parts which are often played with a soft round tone behind the louder string section, which limits them to the role of providing a dissonant harmonization of the main harmonic line.  Harnoncourt has them barking out with a brilliant timbre, which makes effect of the passage much more striking.  I can't imaging why it would be played any other way.  Similar comments apply to the finale of the Haffner symphony, which becomes a stunning piece under Harnoncourt's direction.  I remember listening to it when it first came out and being shocked at the brass writing.  The only other recording I had at the time was Karajan's, and under Herbie's direction it wasn't clear that there was a brass section at all.


In context of another thread begun by Johannes, the word "revelation" in your post above got me thinking: are H's "wide dynamics, aggressive attacks, prominent brass and winds, dramatic outbursts" pleasurable for you to listen to?  Indeed many people's primary critique of his performances is that they are ugly.  However, speaking for myself, they give me immense pleasure, for being exciting, setting my adrenaline running etc.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: M forever on June 24, 2008, 07:48:25 AM
Some good points there from our friend Scarpia who, however, annoyingly still insists on top posting (which really breaks up the flow of reading).   $:)

Anyway, apart from the obvious question what is "ugly" supposed to mean here - and it is indeed most likely that the people who say that refer to the relatively strong dynamic and tonal contrasts of many of Harnoncourt's Mozart interpretations as opposed to the majority of conductors who reduce this music to smooth, featureless elevator music -, in addition to these contrasts, Harnoncourt's interpretation also typically contain more nuanced, sensitive, and eloquent articulation and phrasing than most other interpreters'. As if that wasn't enough, he also brings a sense of rhythmic flexibility on top of a steady musical pulse to his music making which outlines and underlines the above qualities. In other words, there is simply much more music and music making happening.

In addition to what Scarpia said, another important factor to consider when it comes to the role of the brass (and timpani) in music of that time is that these instruments were pretty much still "the real thing". Trumpets were of the long fanfare kind. They weren't yet an instrument derived and refined from that, they were fanfares. Indeed, since the high art of clarino playing had been lost, there weren't that many trumpet players as such anymore. The players (and instruments, of course) for which the trumpet (and the timpani) parts were written very often came from military bands, as did the timpani.
While the art of playing the hand horn was already very highly developed at that point, the orchestral horn had been domesticated from the basic hunting horn not too long before, and the instruments themselves were still very close to their outdoors ancestor, nearly identical. In fact, one of the reasons they found their way into the orchestra was because they brought the outdoor thrills and flamboyantly representative quality of hunting music (and hunting was very much a  priviledge of the nobility, of course) in with them. Countless pieces from the era still use them as hunting horns, not in the form of stylized quotes, but as the actual thing itself. It is pretty obvious that these instruments - horns, trumpets, timpani - were integrated into the orchestra to bring additional color and excitement to the music, not to sit around in the back and pretend they aren't really there.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Mandryka on December 06, 2011, 11:22:40 PM
Time and time again I've been impressed by what I've heard from him. And sometimes, especially in Mozart (Gran Partita, VCM Prague Symphony) his versions are by far and away my favourites.

So I thought I'd start a thread where you could let us know what you think of his work.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41MYDNWG4TL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)(http://www3.alibris-static.com/cover/l06999vp2q8.jpg)

One aspect which particularly interests me is his attitude towards authenticity. If you know any published interviews, papers or articles about this, please let me know.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: mc ukrneal on December 06, 2011, 11:37:55 PM
Time and time again I've been impressed by what I've heard from him. And sometimes, especially in Mozart (Gran Partita, VCM Prague Symphony) his versions are by far and away my favourites.

So I thought I'd start a thread where you could let us know what you think of his work.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41MYDNWG4TL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)(http://www3.alibris-static.com/cover/l06999vp2q8.jpg)

One aspect which particularly interests me is his attitude towards authenticity. If you know any published interviews, papers or articles about this, please let me know.
An interesting conductor and an interesting idea. I like his Mozart too. His Beethoven is mixed for me. I bought the symphony set when it first came out. I like it, but it has never grabbed me the way others do in Beethoven. I rarely listen to the set. And this is despite all the rave reviews he has gotten over the years.

You may enjoy this 'old' interview transcript: http://welltemperedmusic.blogspot.com/2005/12/harnoncourt-interview-transcript.html (http://welltemperedmusic.blogspot.com/2005/12/harnoncourt-interview-transcript.html). Seems to be a lot on what you are looking for.

EDIT: Forgot I had seen this recently. It's interesting: http://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/2463-3 (http://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/2463-3)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Mandryka on December 07, 2011, 03:19:34 AM
Thanks for those links.

I forgot to mantion what is, IMO, one of his finest achievements -- maybe one of the finest opera recordings ever made. I'm talking about his first recording of Monteverdi's Orfeo

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51U96U9Z0EL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

http://open.spotify.com/album/0iaqTzrAhK0nRBeRhPXU2b
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: TheGSMoeller on December 07, 2011, 04:58:57 AM
.




This is one my favorite operas and this Harnoncourt is my top choice for recording. Harnoncourt creates a large orchestral sound, and the tempos are slower than my other Flute performances which I prefer, every instrumental line is clearly presented and the singing never feels rushed, this is a plus especially with the beautiful duet between Papagano and Pamino in the first act.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Mandryka on December 07, 2011, 05:20:45 AM
That's great -- I'd like to have a good new record of the magic Flute. It's not an opera I've explored much on disk. And that's on spotify so I can hear it easily.

Here's the final movement of the Gran Partita, which I uploaded for a friend:

http://www.goear.com/files/external.swf?file=fc7df53


http://www.goear.com/files/external.swf?file=fc7df53

What is very memorable -- which you won't be able to hear unfortunately -- is the transition from the final variation into that seventh movement.


Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: val on December 09, 2011, 02:09:42 AM
He recorded the best versions of Orfeo and L'Incoronazione di Popea. And a very expressionist but impressive Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda with Hollweg.

Then his version of Bach Cantatas with Leonhardt. Just an example: the best Cantata BWV 20 I ever heard.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Coopmv on December 09, 2011, 07:03:15 PM
I think Nikolaus Harnoncourt may be as close to be a perfect conductor as any conductor can get.  From early music to baroque to late classical, I am not aware of any other conductors, living or dead, can beat him in the last 50 years.  His versatility is simply unmatched.  I enjoy his 60-CD Complete Bach Cantatas set as much as I do his Beethoven Symphonies and Schubert Symphonies sets.  The latter set on WarnerClassics with the RCO is simply the best Schubert Symphonies I have ever heard.  The Monteverdi works recorded early in his career were also quite nicely done ...
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: DieNacht on December 21, 2011, 07:37:49 AM
I´d like his textual and rhythmic clarity in Nielsen, Sibelius and Pettersson for instance ... We could likewise use some modern recordings of
Pijper, Vermeulen or Hauer orchestral works, to mention some Central European repertoire. Harnoncourt didn´t do enough Neuer Wiener Schule either ...

But: Tchaikovsky and other Romantic Russians would be a surprise !

In this interview, he has some ideas and views concerning future plans (2007):
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/December%202007/37/779612/c.A+1fdime#header-logo
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Superhorn on December 22, 2011, 02:20:41 PM
   Since he's a  committed Bruckerian, I'm surprised he hasn't tackled Wagner yet . That might be interesting ,too. 
   At the age of 82, I suppose  it's unlikely he would have the stamina to tackle the Ring live, or other complete Wagner,
  but I suppose he could do  the preludes and overtures etc. 
     But I hope he wouldn't do Wagner the "HIP" way.  Norrington's  EMI Wagner CD is kind of interesting, but it's Wagner lite .
    I've never heard any conductor make the Meistersinger overture sound so trivial .
    Simon Rattle did  a period instrument Das Rheingold several years ago in London in concert with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (what a pretentious name for an orchestra !)  , and it was well received . I would have liked to hear it , but unfortunately, no recording has come out .
 
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Brian on December 22, 2011, 04:22:23 PM
Since this thread was revived after 4 years, we can look it over and see that nobody in 2007 guessed the correct answer!

Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Mandryka on November 02, 2012, 11:45:45 PM
(https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSfmZuZizqbzTcNxMle2W-z-EdJe1rvR-iNCbr4b6KylroK3MUy)

I think the Mozart symphonies here are very interesting, I'm enjoying them rather more than the COA equivalents.

In 39, I'm hearing more ideas which I'm used to from Harnoncourt's best baroque recordings. Dissonances sometimes  highlighted; simultaneous musical lines sometimes molded in opposition to each other; textures which give the impression that there's a lot going on, too much to take in at once; local structures highlighted rather than big architectures; the music often articulated into small speech like phrases rather than long cantabile lines; smooth continuous non-legato; restrained dynamic variation.

Anyway I'm so impressed that it's prompted me to order his book on Mozart. and his biography in fact. Anyone know them?

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/517FSPXQRQL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.stagepass.com/images/item_gif/00331582.gif)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: kishnevi on November 04, 2012, 06:38:21 AM
(http://www.stagepass.com/images/item_gif/00331582.gif)

I've read that one, and don't remember a single detail of what he said there!  Although I do remember finding it interesting as I read it.  Obviously I need to up my intake of gingko and ginseng. (I don't remember which one is supposed to help memory  ;D )

It's not a biography, but a group of essays written by NH.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Mandryka on November 04, 2012, 07:47:06 AM
I've read that one, and don't remember a single detail of what he said there!  Although I do remember finding it interesting as I read it.  Obviously I need to up my intake of gingko and ginseng. (I don't remember which one is supposed to help memory  ;D )

It's not a biography, but a group of essays written by NH.

No the other one is the biography, by Monika Mertl. Not in English, but it is in French and German. I ordred the French one -- Alice et Nikolaus Harnoncourt, une biographie : L'intelligence du coeur.

I listened to his Jupiter symphony on the DVD with the VPO and felt very excited by what I was hearing. Like the Symphony 39 I could hear him trying to apply some of the ideas you hear him experimenting with in the Bach canatas.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: kishnevi on November 04, 2012, 08:33:13 AM
No the other one is the biography, by Monika Mertl. Not in English, but it is in French and German. I ordred the French one -- Alice et Nikolaus Harnoncourt, une biographie : L'intelligence du coeur.

I listened to his Jupiter symphony on the DVD with the VPO and felt very excited by what I was hearing. Like the Symphony 39 I could hear him trying to apply some of the ideas you hear him experimenting with in the Bach canatas.

:D I guess I do need to take those herbals seriously.   I looked a tad too quickly at the images, and read too quickly too.

In fact, IIRC, Mozart is simply one chapter in that book.

Harnoncourt is actually one of those conductors I buy knowing it will be interesting, no matter what the music in question might be.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Scarpia on November 04, 2012, 08:44:45 AM
I listened to his Jupiter symphony on the DVD with the VPO and felt very excited by what I was hearing. Like the Symphony 39 I could hear him trying to apply some of the ideas you hear him experimenting with in the Bach canatas.

I'm confused, since you've referred to a DVD of Harnoncourt doing Mozart with the VPO, but I only know of a video with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.  Is there another?
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Mandryka on November 04, 2012, 08:59:07 AM
No, that's my mistake. I shouldn't have typed VPO. I do have a record of him playing sumphony 33 with the VPO quite recently, but it's never been commercially released.

I wonder this has been moved from the discussion of period performane Mozart.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Jo498 on December 05, 2015, 11:41:46 AM
Harnoncourt, who turns 86 tomorrow, cancels concerts and announces retreat from conducting due to poor health.
(link below in German)


http://diepresse.com/home/kultur/klassik/4881847/Nikolaus-Harnoncourt-zieht-sich-zuruck
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: knight66 on December 13, 2015, 01:44:57 AM
What a shame, he has been one of the most influential musicians of our time. He has left to us an astonishing legacy. I hope he can enjoy some years of leisure.

Mike
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 17, 2021, 07:01:30 AM
I posted in the "listening to" thread a few days ago about a recording of LvB 5th Symphony, Mvt II only, from Harnoncourt/PhilZ appearing on Apple Music, apparently a new CD titled Farewell From Zurich will be released in September from a 2011 concert.
Details in the link...

https://prospero-classical.com/album/nikolaus-harnoncourt-farewell-from-zurich/
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: vers la flamme on August 17, 2021, 02:28:34 PM
Beyond the Bach Cantatas set (which I intend to get some day), what are some of Harnoncourt's greatest Baroque recordings? The only recordings of his I have are a couple of early Romantic composers, and Haydn, and I understand he's rather more renowned for his Baroque music.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Jo498 on August 17, 2021, 10:07:27 PM
It's not alway easy to appreciate how pioneering some of these recordings were in the 1960s and 1970s. Tbh I am a bit too young myself but I do remember how strange some sounds were when I encountered them in the mid-late 1980s when it was still not standard. Of course many things have changed, have been learned, relaxed, different compromises with practical necessities found. And Harnoncourt remained unconventional and controversial all the time. It's also interesting that after he had arrived at Beethoven and Schubert around 1990 he basically focussed mainly on the "highlights" from baroque, re-recording some famous piece but hardly "digging" anymore. Which is o.k. for someone in his 60s who really had a long way to fame. (Until the late 1960s, so for about 15 years he still had to play cello with the Vienna Symphony to make enough money to support his family.)

I have heard some of his Monteverdi but don't know the music nor the recording well enough to comment.

Handel:

Concerti op.6, Organ Concerti op.4+7
These are my favorite recordings of these works, especially op.6 is quite different from anyone else, more dramatic, more contrasts, short on elegance or wit, though, if one is looking for that.

Alexander's Feast, Ode for St Cecilia's day
(what I have heard of the other oratorio recordings I'd not recommend as a first choice)

Bach:

St. Matthew (both ca. 1970 (all male singers) when the real conductor was probably the choral conductor Willcocks and the ca. 2000 "modern" recording), St. John ca. 1995. I have not heard the old St. John with Gillesberger nor any  b minor mass recording; the old Xmas oratorio is also all male singers and was quite famous in its day.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 18, 2021, 11:42:20 AM
Harnonourt recorded a few Biber records with Concentus Musicus Wein. All excellent performances.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51UlXbkdyyL._SY355_.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/618ZIoJc6gL._SY355_.jpg)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Mandryka on August 18, 2021, 12:02:17 PM
Beyond the Bach Cantatas set (which I intend to get some day), what are some of Harnoncourt's greatest Baroque recordings? The only recordings of his I have are a couple of early Romantic composers, and Haydn, and I understand he's rather more renowned for his Baroque music.

Monteverdi Orfeo, especially the Ponelle video.

Vivaldi 4 seasons - in fact the whole thing, the trial between harmony and invention (or something like that.)

Haendel concertos

The second B minor mass. Someone else will hopefully say something about the Bach passions
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: vers la flamme on August 18, 2021, 12:53:22 PM
Thanks; I'll have to seek out the Biber and the Vivaldi (one of few works that I don't think I can have too many recordings of).
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Jo498 on August 18, 2021, 11:11:48 PM
I forgot the 4 seasons. This holds up very well despite dozens of other recordings. Back then it must have been the first where one could really hear the dog bark (and there are several later HIP recordings much smoother where one does not hear any dogs...)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: j winter on August 20, 2021, 07:19:55 AM
I think I'm going to order this, just based on Sarge's description of the Mozart Requiem earlier in the thread...

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71VQzpcpunL._SX425_.jpg)(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81w-QY2AyTL._SX425_.jpg)

Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 20, 2021, 06:46:09 PM
I recently came across this Schubert symphony cycle with the COE. I had no idea that Harnoncourt recorded this, which would be the third along the RCO and Berlin Phil. which I adore both cycles. Should be arriving soon!


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71PZKDmQrcL._SL1200_.jpg)(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71TDKR5PLsL._SL1200_.jpg)
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Mandryka on August 20, 2021, 07:28:06 PM
Harnoncourt recorded K 491 with Lang Lang towards the end of his life, I did not enjoy it. But Lang Lang continued to play the concerto with other conductors and the result is some of the most satisfying and performances of it I know. There used to be several on youtube, ones with Manfred Honeck were specially good.
Title: Re: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Post by: Jo498 on August 20, 2021, 11:24:16 PM
Note that the sacred choral box are all "late" recordings and Harnoncourt had recorded the pieces by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven's op.123 before. I cannot comment on the relative merits as the only of the box I know is the "Creation" (very good, probably better than the old Teldec Vienna Symphony recording, I had heard the "Seasons" in the old recording and don't think it is among his best).