This set is a testament to a remarkable collaboration between the conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929-2016) and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE) and its release this year marks the Orchestra’s 40th anniversary. These recordings also trace the relationship between Harnoncourt and the Styriarte Festival which started in 1987 and lasted for over 30 years. The repertoire in this set features live concerts performed between 1989 and 2007.
The COE became Harnoncourt’s orchestra of choice for the classics played on modern instruments. He had been the pioneer of the exploration of period-appropriate style from the early 1950s with the Concentus Musicus Wien, and followed this by exploring how modern instruments could respond in the classics by adapting to the style without having to change the instruments they were playing. Harnoncourt wanted the players to take risks and perhaps fail rather than play safe. In rehearsal, he often told the performers that great music was always on the edge of catastrophe! The set offers remarkable examples of Harnoncourt’s fresh insights into his core repertoire – Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms. · All these recordings are ‘live’ performances, beautifully recorded producing an extra degree of spontaneity and atmosphere compared to studio recordings.
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Brahms: Tragic Overture, Op. 81
Haydn: Symphony No. 100 in G major ‘Military’
Haydn: Symphony No. 101 in D major ‘The Clock’
Mozart: March in D major, K335 No. 1
Mozart: Serenade No. 9 in D major, K320 ‘Posthorn’
Mozart: Symphony No. 29 in A major, K201
Sueddeutsche Zeitung Review
There are new audio documents from the conductor and pioneer of historical performance practice Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who died in 2016. In 1986 he founded the “Styriarte” festival in Graz, where he made the Chamber Orchestra of Europe his musical mouthpiece. The dynamically pointed “speaking” of sounds and forms was Harnoncourt’s idea and goal of every orchestral work, here with the heavyweights Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms. It is extraordinary, with what fiery, sometimes violent determination Harnoncourt and his musicians realize, no, conjure up the impulses of Haydn’s military symphony or Mozart’s “Posthorn” serenade. The listener understands “sound language” beyond any conceptuality – every symphonic word also in Beethoven’s fifth, seventh and Brahms’ fourth symphonies. Plausibility of musical understanding, vividly ordered, flawless.