Concentus Musicus Wien

Biography

Active: 1953 - ; Vienna, Austria
The Concentus Musicus Wien (Concentus Musicus of Vienna) has long been one of the premier musical ensembles specializing in period instruments and techniques, with an immense discography. Austrian conductor and cellist Nikolaus Harnoncourt founded Concentus Musicus in Vienna in 1953. The ensemble, led by Harnoncourt's wife, Alice, on first violin and staffed with many of their young colleagues from the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, then prepared Read more themselves for four years before giving their first concert. Vienna, home of musicologist Joseph Merkin, keyboardist Gustav Leonhardt, the Clemencic Consort, the Capella Academica, and the Vienna Recorder Ensemble, was already claiming worldwide attention for its early music performance. Yet Concentus Musicus exploded onto the musical scene, displaying a level of technical virtuosity unknown in most period-instrument orchestras of the time.

The group's award-laden and often controversial recording career began with Teldec (then Telefunken) in 1963. The repertories explored by Concentus Musicus, interestingly, have mimicked the trajectory of Western music history. The group's early programs sometimes featured re-creations of medieval and Renaissance music. The first recording project, however, presented the Viol Fantasias (1680) of Henry Purcell, and the ensemble quickly became known for its performance of the high Baroque. Among its many acclaimed interpretations of the music of J.S. Bach are the Brandenburg Concerti (first recorded in 1964), the Orchestral Suites (1966), the St. John Passion (1965), Mass in B minor (1968), St. Matthew Passion (1970), and a massive project to record the complete cantatas (undertaken between 1971 and 1990 with Gustav Leonhardt). In the meantime, the group participated in Zürich productions of all three Monteverdi operas in the 1970s and gave performances of Rameau, Telemann, Handel, and many others. From this deep expertise, the Concentus Musicus moved forward into the eighteenth century, giving sharp and highly energetic performances of Mozart and Haydn symphonies, choral works, and operas. It has received a Grammy and multiple awards of the French Grand Prix du Disque, the Edison Prize, the German Schallplattenpreis, and Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik; the Bach cantata series earned them the Gramophone Award for Special Achievement.

The performing philosophy of Concentus Musicus follows the vision of founders Nikolaus and Alice Harnoncourt. Nikolaus has called his 1954 essay "On the Interpretation of Historical Music" the group's creed. In the face of what he sees as two conflicting approaches to past music -- either to transplant it into the present and thus transform it, or academically transplant oneself into the past and thus lose connection with the present -- his ideal uses past techniques and instruments to re-create a vibrant contemporary music. He treats the Baroque orchestra as an instrument "whose sound and technique aid and inspire us" to live and make music in the twentieth century. The sonic hallmarks of his approach include a virtuosic level of competence on the early instruments, a characteristic sharpness of musical articulation and accent, a carefully historic tuning system, and creative use of spatial elements to render the "Musical Dialogue." Read less
Browse 1-11 of 11 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Archiv Produktion: Analogue Stereo Recordings (1959-1981)
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 002490502 Release Date: 05/20/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Pierre Vachon,  Nicolas-Marie Dalayrac,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Stader,  Hedwig Bilgram,  Hertha Töpper,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter,  August Wenzinger,  Karl Ristenpart,  Robert Stehli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Munich Bach Choir,  Loewenguth String Quartet  ... 
    CD: $106.49
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  • 2.
    Bach: Magnificat - Handel: Utrecht Te Deum / Harnoncourt, Concentus Musicus Wien
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554601 Release Date: 04/15/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concentus Musicus Wien
    CD: $13.99
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  • 3.
    Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 / Harnoncourt
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 513645 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concentus Musicus Wien
    CD: $14.99
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  • 4.
    100 Best Film Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 553645 Release Date: 01/08/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Alfred Newman,  Richard Strauss,  John T. Williams,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Nicolai Gedda,  Ernest Blanc,  Augustin Dumay,  Gary Hoffman  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Bateman,  Rudolf Kempe,  Geoff Love,  Mariss Jansons  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Jean-Marie Leclair,  The Hungarian Quartet,  Il Giardino Armonico  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 5.
    50 Most Beautiful Classical Pieces
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 553009 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Christian Zacharias,  Nicolai Gedda,  Kerstin [Mezzo-soprano Vocal] Meyer,  Gré Brouwenstijn  ... 
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  André Cluytens,  David Fray,  Fabio Biondi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante,  Les Arts Florissants,  Concentus Musicus Wien
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    CD: $16.99
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  • 6.
    Handel: Jephtha
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 692587 Release Date: 01/27/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concentus Musicus Wien
    CD: $28.99
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  • 7.
    Mozart: Haffner Symphony, Posthorn Serenade / Harnoncourt,  Vienna Concentus Musicus
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 372068 Release Date: 03/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concentus Musicus Wien
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    CD: $12.99
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  • 8.
    Das Alte Werk - 50-CD Collection
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 46438 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Performer:  Herbert Tachezi,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Frans Brüggen,  Jeannette Van Wingerden  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Werner Ehrhardt,  Giovanni Antonini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Leonhardt Consort,  Studio for Early Music  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
    CD: $249.99
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  • 9.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos No 23 & 25 / Buchbinder, Harnoncourt
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 540904 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Rudolf Buchbinder
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concentus Musicus Wien
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  • 10.
    Mozart: Complete Sacred Music
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 4676111 Release Date: 04/26/2011   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Gilles Cachemaille,  Charlotte Margiono,  Uwe Heilmann,  Barbara Bonney  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concentus Musicus Wien
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    CD: $83.49
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  • 11.
    40 Most Beautiful Christmas Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 361852 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Traditional,  Adolphe Adam,  Michael Praetorius,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Michael George,  Sumi Jo,  Gottfried Bach,  Gottfried [Classical Keyboards] Bach  ... 
    Conductor:  Robin Stapleton,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Alexander Lazarev  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Lyon Opera Orchestra,  London Heinrich Schütz Choir  ... 
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    CD: $14.99
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