Because Mozart's earliest symphonies are performed less often than the later masterpieces and are consequently underrepresented on disc, Nikolaus Harnoncourt's period performances with Concentus Musicus Wien may have an added value beyond sheer musical excellence. Much has been written about how these works are miraculous manifestations of the young Mozart's genius, and their consistently high quality obviates criticism for their few shortcomings. But these symphonies really do sound magical and even startling in Harnoncourt's vital renditions, and Concentus Musicus delivers them with boisterous enthusiasm and full bow, with absolutely no precious Rococo affectations. Brisk tempi, tight ensemble playing and the clear timbres of original instruments contribute to the authenticity of the performances, but these may count less than the gusto, humor, and freshness that the musicians display in each work. The woodwinds and horns are especially robust and earthy, and Harnoncourt draws out their distinctive colors and striking rhythms to contrast them more effectively with the strings. Deutsche Harmonia Mundi's sound is immaculate, without doubt the best the label can offer, and the acoustics of Kasino Zögernitz are ideal for balance and resonance.(Blair Sanderson)
For the "Ouverture spirituelle", featuring sacred music within the Salzburg Festival, Nikolaus Harnoncourt chose two seldom heard works by Mozart. Together with the Arnold Schoenberg Chor and his Concentus Musicus Wien ensemble, he conducts the Litaniae de venerabili altaris sacramento K.243 and the Missa longa in C major K.262 in the unique venue that is Salzburg Cathedral, a jewel of Baroque architecture. These two highly expressive works were written by Mozart when he was a mere twenty years old.
Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, named after their dedicatee the Margrave Christian Ludwig von Brandenburg, have been part of Nikolaus Harnoncourt's permanent repertoire ever since he founded his Concentus musicus ensemble. The ensemble has recorded them and played them on their tours throughout the world.
Filmed and directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle in the unique interiors of Vicenza's Teatro Olimpico in 1986, this DVD offers an intimate glimpse of Mozart's first major opera, written when the precocious composer was just fourteen. Nikolaus Harnoncourt leads a stellar cast in portraying the inner circle of the Roman Empire's fiercest enemy: Mithridates, king of Pontus.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt created an interpretation in which Haydn’s work can become a veritable gem of opera literature. Renowned actor and director Tobias Moretti relates the story as a light-footed, magical fairy tale infused with slapstick, witty details and fantasy costumes.
Mozart 250th Anniversary Edition: Complete Sacred Music by Harnoncourt / Mozart / Vienna Concentus Musicus was released Sep 19, 2005 on the Warner Classics label. Mozart 250th Anniversary Edition: Complete Sacred Music is a 13-disc set.
…Finally, the playing of the Concentus Musicus Wien is extraordinary. (…) You'll be dazzled, even awed. It sets a new standard in Haydn performance–and trust me, you won't be able to stop listening.
This delightful "dramma eroicomico" ("heroic-comic drama"–-a made-up phrase brimming with irony) tells the story of the noble knight Orlando, who goes mad being torn between duty and love, his love, Angelica, who actually wants Medoro, and Alcina, an evil sorceress out to get Orlando, and turns it into a type of farce, with great results. There is some lovely music, mostly for Angelica and Medoro, but most of it is fun and light, with characters whistling, trying to impress people with how well they sing, etc. The scoring wittily underlines their foibles… –Robert Levine