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Nikolaus Harnoncourt: The Symphony Collection

Harnoncourt, Nikolaus / Cgb / Coe / Bpo / Vpo
Release Date: 10/26/2010 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 690049  
Composer:  Franz Joseph HaydnWolfgang Amadeus MozartLudwig van BeethovenFranz Schubert,   ... 
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw OrchestraChamber Orchestra of EuropeBerlin Philharmonic Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set:

"Harnoncourt’s Mozart, recorded at concerts, takes nothing for granted. Every musical strand in th[is] great work seems to have been reassessed in the light of the conductor’s vast experience in early music. Add to this the outstanding playing of the COE, and you have [a] performance that [is] both provocative and musically enlightening."

-- BBC Music Magazine Reviewing Mozart Symphony no 41

"A former player in the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and founder of Vienna's Concentus Musicus, Harnoncourt here allows and perhaps encourages the great Philharmonic to play Bruckner with the devotion and tenderness
Read more so often manifested for favored conductors in the past (for example, Knappertsbusch, Schuricht, Böhm, and Giulini). Unlike the Amsterdam performances, this one is in the top rank for sheer musical beauty. The Seventh was the first of Bruckner's symphonies to be recognized as a masterpiece at its very first performance, and was performed many times during the composer's lifetime. When hearing its glorious first subject played as beautifully as it is here, one can understand how this piece grasped the attention of audiences rather than puzzling or startling them.

But for all its tonal beauties this is still a characteristic Harnoncourt performance. He completes the work in exactly one hour by obeying Bruckner's direction to play the scherzo very fast, and then by ignoring the caution "not too fast" in the Finale, making it very fast indeed. Harnoncourt saves the most time in the Adagio, universally admired as the finest movement in the work, and perhaps the finest movement Bruckner ever composed. You may not notice the slightly quickened pace in the long, soulful first subject, but the waltzlike second subject is especially fast and lively. Though students of Bruckner far more knowledgeable than I have determined what the composer intended these tempos to be, such knowledge has rarely affected actual performances. I therefore go simply by personal reaction: Does it sound musical? Does it make the score appealing? With respect to all the original ideas Harnoncourt brings to the Seventh Symphony, my answer is a hearty yes."

-- Robert McColley, Fanfare Reviewing Bruckner 7th Symphony

"a new Beethoven cycle which manages to combine the shock of the new with an uncanny sense of familiarity. Harnoncourt doesn't pretend that what he offers is Beethoven as the composer imagined it. With the exception of the trumpets, the instruments are all modern, and while phrasing, rhythmic articulation, expression and balance reveal Harnoncourt's rigorous and passionate pursuit of historical truth, the results neither sound nor feel like anything offered under that banner before. Right from the start—the slow introduction to the First Symphony—the feeling that emerges through the finely differentiated phrasing is surprising in its intensity.

So why 'familiarity'? Because listening to this set I was reminded over and over again how exciting it was to discover Beethoven's symphonies for the first time—I'm not exaggerating. One could argue for pages about Harnoncourt's theories on musical rhetoric in Beethoven's time, on musical genres as ''dramas or novels'' or ''the links between body movement and music''; what is beyond dispute is the vision that motivates Harnoncourt's music-making. The driving force behind many of the allegros is comparable with Toscanini, but unlike the familar NBC Toscanini cycle, or for that matter Roger Norrington, he can be flexible: rubatos, even allargandos, aren't uncommon, and important changes of key or character can bring minute tempo changes of their own—the kind of subtle inflexion Czerny observed in Beethoven's playing.

The most striking contrast with period instrument recordings, however, is in the slow movements. Harnoncourt's tempos can be pretty mobile, his phrasing sharply featured, but the emotional generosity, the telling contrasts of mood and colour suggest older models...only Carlos Kleiber (DG) amongst recent-ish versions matches the superb drama of light and scale in the Andante con moto of No. 5."

-- Stephen Johnson, Gramophone [11/1991] Reviewing Beethoven Symphonies

"Harnoncourt’s performances of Dvorák’s Seventh and Eighth Symphonies have to date excited near-universal enthusiasm. The hallmark of his readings is a scrupulous attention to detail that liberates these well-known works from anything that could be described as routine. His rendition of the New World is without question a revelation. Listeners and interpreters alike will benefit hugely from a pervasive unfussiness and respect for Dvorák’s orchestration that penetrates deep into the fabric of the work. Every line that Dvorák intended to emerge shines through with persuasive force; perhaps the most exciting aspect of this approach is the way in which the lower strings and wind instruments are given the opportunity to participate fully in the performance. Nor is there any danger of Harnoncourt failing to see the wood for the trees: his strongly Classical, one is tempted to say, central European reading of the work has a clear sense of line which nevertheless does not compromise a strong sense of the Symphony’s essential originality. And for all its directness, Harnoncourt does not eschew rich sentiment – witness the solo string-playing of the slow movement’s celebrated big tune: a heart-stopping moment despite the relatively fast tempo. Anyone who cares about this work should certainly acquire this recording."

-- Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine Reviewing Dvorak Symphony no 9

"In the Third Symphony, too, expectations are confounded. The work’s beauty has never been more apparent – Harnoncourt is a staunch advocate of this Cinderella of the quartet – but is transformed into a strange and disturbing vision. The analysis of the middle movements in particular is trenchant and irresistible, forcing the most familiar elements to regroup in new, surprising shapes. It’s all done without melodrama, yet the need to reassess the music is undeniable. Harnoncourt’s standpoint is different and is one which demands that we question all our certainties. Do we really know Brahms’s symphonies?"

-- Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine Reviewing Brahms Symphonies
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 94 in G major, H 1 no 94 "Surprise" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; London, England 
2.
Symphony no 104 in D major, H 1 no 104 "London" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795; London, England 
3.
Symphony no 41 in C major, K 551 "Jupiter" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Symphony no 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Symphony no 4 in D minor, Op. 120 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Germany 
Notes: Version of 1841 
8.
Symphony no 4 in A major, Op. 90 "Italian" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Germany 
9.
Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 90 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Austria 
10.
Symphony no 7 in E major, WAB 107 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881-1883; Vienna, Austria 
11.
Symphony no 9 in E minor, Op. 95/B 178 "From the New World" by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; USA 

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