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Sacred Vocal Music - Released October 18, 2010 | RCA Red Seal

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio
Widely respected as a pioneer in the field of early music who employed original instruments in performances of Baroque and Classical music, Nikolaus Harnoncourt is also admired for his insightful interpretations of 19th century music. His 2007 recording with the Vienna Philharmonic of Johannes Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem is characteristic of his handling of the Romantic repertoire, insofar as he clearly knows the best scholarship on performance style, yet neither makes authenticity a fetish nor lets expression suffer through an obsession with period practice. The sound of the orchestra is quite modern and full, and there is no attempt to make the strings play with minimal vibrato or to make the ensemble seem reduced in size or altered in the seating arrangement, unlike some historically informed performances. Furthermore, Harnoncourt's tempos are conventional, and the pacing is steady and even on the slow and reverent side, so his approach shows that he is far from doctrinaire in his choices and doesn't always follow a revisionist approach. The singing by the Arnold Schoenberg Choir is quite rich and smoothly blended, and the solos by soprano Genia Kühmeier and baritone Thomas Hampson are warm and expressive. Overall, the sound of the recording is fine, though RCA's microphone placement seems a little distant and soft-focused, so some of the details in the counterpoint seem hazy.

Symphonic Music - Released March 2, 2012 | Sony Classical

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Productions
Listening to an album by conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, even in his ninth decade, is a bit like attending a Richard Pryor show: you know you're going to be outraged at some point, but you're also going to get a radically new perspective on the subject matter. So it is with this Waltz Revolution, which the invigorated Sony Classical label deserves kudos for issuing. Hearing the album, you are in a world that's just about as far as possible from New Year's Eve Viennese waltz specials on television. The album begins with Mozart, who didn't write waltzes, and the initial contradances are not even in triple meter. This is the weakest part of Harnoncourt's argument here. It's true that Mozart wrote a lot of dances during the last years of his life, seems to have enjoyed doing so, and was esteemed in this field by the people who commissioned him, but what's not so clear is the implied line from Mozart to Joseph Lanner and Johann Strauss I. It seems unlikely that Mozart's German dances and the like were being much performed in the 1820s. Harnoncourt seems to put Mozart first largely because their instrumentation, with winds and percussion, works well to set up the main attraction, namely the authentic-instrument performances of Strauss and Lanner with Concentus Musicus Wien. As usual with Harnoncourt, you may like or hate these, but the album is undeniably fresh, with lots of music that has rarely been heard outside Austria. Sample the familiar Radetzsky March, Op. 228, of Strauss I for an idea of what's happening. First of all, this is not the version usually heard, which comes from a later arrangement; the work as Strauss wrote it is less brass and percussion heavy and generally a bit more transparent. Harnoncourt's reading is characteristically astringent. Second, you'll hear the sounds of Harnoncourt's assorted period brasses and winds, which add color where a modern section strives for homogeneity. In general, they have a somewhat rougher sound than usual, but as compared with other Harnoncourt recordings there's nothing too shocking about this one. It's more like a pastry with the Schlag scraped off than an intentionally sour dish. The pieces by Lanner on the second CD are uniformly enjoyable, with such details as a shouted part for the musicians in the Malapou-Galopp (named for a locale in New Caledonia). Unreservedly recommended for Harnoncourt fans, and even for waltz lovers with plenty of antacid on hand.

Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released June 3, 2016 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 4 étoiles Classica
In July 2015, just eight months before his death, Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducted spiritual opus of Beethoven, the enigmatic and titanic Missa Solemnis, for a final time. It was a work that he addressed very late in his career, with 1988 being the first time. At the head of his Concentus Musicus and the Arnold Schönberg Choir, he produces an uncluttered reading, stripped of all excess weight that has restricted so many conductors in the past, including the most famous. It’s almost like attending a huge Mass! Both the Piano and silence are key, allowing the monument to emerge in all its grandeur from the calm. Suddenly the lines become clear and intelligible, the "lengths" acquire their entire purpose... what we see from the old lion Harnoncourt here is most extraordinary, with his ability to allow the listener to peer into the soul of Beethoven. If there is only one record to keep... © SM / Qobuz

Symphonies - Released August 13, 2014 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Classica

Oratorios (secular) - Released April 26, 2013 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Record of the Month - Hi-Res Audio

Symphonies - Released February 5, 2016 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
Nothing new under the sun ? Oh but yes! This recording of the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies of Beethoven by the venerable Nikolaus Harnoncourt lives and breathes brand new. The difference is most notable seeing as he calls on an instrumentarium (along the lines of what Beethoven had in his time) particularly wind-based, whose sound is frankly different from what we know today. Listeners beware: you'll never listen to these two Beethoven symphonies with the same ear once you've had a taste of the original fountain that is sourced here in the 85th year of Harnoncourts wonderful musical mind © SM / Qobuz

Classical - Released May 29, 2015 | Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama

Classical - Released November 16, 2009 | RCA Red Seal

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects

Cantatas (sacred) - Released November 16, 2009 | deutsche harmonia mundi

Distinctions 3F de Télérama

Classical - Released May 29, 2015 | Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
"Schubert is the composer who is closest to my heart. When we talk about great music, we always talk first about Mozart and Bach. But when it comes to the last heartbeats then it is definitely Schubert who is closest to me." Harnoncourt has conducted multiple cycles of Schubert symphonies since the 1980s and also devoted time to the two late masses. No other conductor seems to be interested by the now very rarely performed opera Alfonso und Estrella. Between 2003 and 2006 he accepted the invitation of the Berliner Philharmoniker and conducted the orchestra on this program, from which the present recordings were derived. The vocal cast of opera is truly outstanding in the recordings with Kurt Streit, Dorothea Röschmann and Christian Gerhaher. This second large-scale project from the home of Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings provides a versatile and magnificent portrait of Schubert, supported by the extraordinary musical language of both orchestra and conductor! © AG, Qobuz 2015

Symphonies - Released February 21, 2014 | deutsche harmonia mundi

Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica

Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released August 29, 2006 | Warner Classics International

Classical - Released May 29, 2006 | Warner Classics International

Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra have a knack for delivering something with which many other orchestras and conductors struggle. That is, to produce a box set that has the ability to maintain a listener's interest from disc one to, in this case, disc five. Like their cycle of the Mozart and Schubert symphonies, this set of the late Haydn symphonies is a treat from start to finish. Although Haydn's symphonies do not display the dramatic changes from one symphony to the next that a listener might expect when listening to a cycle of the Beethoven or Mahler symphonies, Harnoncourt and the RCO play with ample exuberance, energy, and minute attention to detail so as to make every note and phrase as fresh as the last. The recordings, made between 1987 and 1993, are highly consistent in sound quality and could just as easily have been made in the same season. The RCO's sound is generally very well-suited to Haydn: crisp strings, punchy brass that don't get in the way, and winds that are equally comfortable in either an accompanimental or soloistic role. The one potential bugaboo that pervades the recording is the timpani, whose sound all too often covers the rest of the orchestra with its very boomy attacks. Apart from that, this collection makes for an excellent reference for the late Haydn symphonies.

Classical - Released January 1, 1999 | Warner Classics International

Classical - Released March 1, 1992 | Warner Classics International


Nikolaus Harnoncourt in the magazine