- Jul 8, 201421st July 2014 will see the release of a monumental recording of Mozart’s last three symphonies with the Concentus Musicus of Vienna, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. After 60 years of performing, studying and exploring the works, Harnoncourt is convinced that they were in fact intended by Mozart to be one work: an ‘Instrumental Oratorium’.
“For decades I have felt that every performance of these three symphonies amounts to a voyage of discovery. From the E flat major introduction [Symphony No. 39] we find ourselves setting out on a rocky road that recalls nothing so much as a psychological drama and that leads ultimately to the mighty coda at the end of the final movement of the “Jupiter” Symphony. In short, this is a goal, a final destination. There is no going on after this.” - Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Nikolaus Harnoncourt has performed, studied and explored Mozart’s last three symphonies for over sixty years. The musical content of the three works, as well as the intriguing context of their composition, has plagued these years with questions. Now after all of this time, after sixty years of developing his period-ensemble Concentus Musicus of Vienna, Harnoncourt is ready to present the world with his interpretation of these legendary works: not as three symphonies, but as one work: Mozart’s ‘Instrumental Oratorium’.
“I am now fully convinced of this unity. Why are the themes and motifs so closely related as to be almost identical? Why is the language of those rhetorical figures that had long been used in music explored in such exhaustive detail here? It was usual to write and publish groups of works – as a rule in sets of three or six. But in this case Mozart wrote all three within a matter of weeks, without any obvious reason for doing so, whether in the form of a commission or with a concert in mind.”
As Harnoncourt points out, the similarities of the motifs used in the three symphonies, the fact that the first symphony is the only one with a proper introduction and the last the only one with a finale, and the sense of a ‘journey’ through the three works, suggest the pieces have a unified musical structure. Coupled with this is the context of the symphonies’ writing: these were the first major works that Mozart wrote without a commission or concert in mind, the last symphonies he ever wrote (even though he lived for a further three years), and all were completed in the Summer of 1788, a period during which Mozart was obsessed with Baroque music.
“Mozart must have had a plan: the instrumental Oratorium did not exist as a form. That was his idea. A genius like Mozart does not stumble upon a large-scale work while writing symphonies.”
This is the first time that Harnoncourt has recorded the three symphonies with the Concentus Musicus of Vienna and it marks the culmination of his lifelong journey with the works.
- Mar 3, 2014
Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s recording of the Mozart Requiem is now available for a limited time at a special price as part of the iTunes Essentials series. This wonderful album collection presents superlative performances of essential masterpieces, all from high resolution master recordings, and all Mastered for iTunes.
- Oct 22, 2013
On January 27, 2014 Sony Classical releases a remarkable addition to Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s discography: Combining symphonic grandeur with light-footed dances and soloistic virtuoso display, Mozart’s great Posthorn-Serenade from 1779 is the ideal pièce de resistance for Harnoncourt and his ensemble, the Concentus Musicus Wien. Their interpretation, captured live at the Vienna Musikverein, is complemented with a buoyant rendering of Mozart’s much-loved Haffner symphony.
- Jul 29, 2013
- Apr 15, 2013
A monster concert featuring some 600 performers in Vienna’s Court Riding School on 29 November 1812 led to the formation of the “Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde” (Society of the Friends of Music), and this was celebrated two centuries later in the form of a reconstruction of that memorable concert from 1812 under the direction of Nikolaus Harnoncourt. On the programme, then as now, was Timotheus oder Die Gewalt der Musik (Timotheus, or The Power of Musick), the German version of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast that Mozart himself had prepared. Find more details on the album here.
- Nov 22, 2012
Captured live at two concerts in June 2012 at the Vienna Musikverein, this recording sheds a new light on two of Mozart’s mature piano concerti. Nikolaus Harnoncourt teamed up with the legendary pianist Rudolf Buchbinder to record this repertoire for the first time with his ensemble, the Concentus Musicus Wien. The combination of a historic fortepiano and original instruments creates unusual colouring and is a unique listening experience.
- Mar 16, 2012
Mozart’s presumably best-known opera, The Magic Flute, opens the series of new opera productions of the 2012 Salzburg Festival. Nikolaus Harnoncourt will lead the Mozart production on historic instruments.
Alexander Pereira, director of the Salzburg Festival, says: “It is not only a first for Salzburg, but also for Nikolaus Harnoncourt to perform this work in this sound-world in Salzburg, together with Concentus Musicus, bringing his entire life’s experience to bear on this production, and I am infinitely grateful to him for this gift,” Pereira expressed his delight.
- Mar 1, 2012
For the first time, the Cologne College of Music and Dance has awarded an honorary doctorate to an outstanding artist. With Nikolaus Harnoncourt they have honoured an artist who represents ideally the broad educational programme of a music college with the wide range of his own musical, scholarly and teaching activities.
On 10th June 2011, Harnoncourt publicly rehearsed and explained to the audience works by Muffat, Biber and others together with the ensemble of the Cologne college's Early Music Institute. The official doctorate ceremony was held afterwards in the chamber music room.
- Mar 1, 2012
Dance as an expression of great social and musical change: Nikolaus Harnoncourt traces the rise of the waltz which accompanied the social revolutions of the 19th century and shows how its origins can be found in the dances of Mozart. In doing so, he introduces us to a radically new sound world far removed from the notions of waltz as easy entertainment - played on original instruments, among them ten different types of trumpet and five different kinds of clarinet, these works sparkle with a many-faceted and finely nuanced diversity of sound.