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.
Between 1961 and 1986, Herbert von Karajan made three recordings of the Mozart Requiem for Deutsche Grammophon, with little change in his conception of the piece over the years. This recording, from 1975, is, on balance, the best of them. The approach is Romantic, broad, and sustained, marked by a thoroughly homogenized blend of chorus and orchestra, a remarkable richness of tone, striking power, and an almost marmoreal polish. Karajan viewed the Requiem as idealized church music rather than a confessional statement awash in operatic expressiveness. In this account, the orchestra is paramount, followed in importance by the chorus, then the soloists. Not surprisingly, the singing of the solo quartet sounds somewhat reined-in, especially considering these singers' pedigrees. By contrast, the Vienna Singverein, always Karajan's favorite chorus, sings with a huge dynamic range and great intensity, though with an emotional detachment nonetheless. Perfection, if not passion or poignancy, is the watchword. The Berlin orchestra plays majestically, and the sound is pleasingly vivid.
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.
On July 16, 1999, the tenth anniversary of the death of Herbert von Karajan, the Berliner Philharmoniker paid tribute to their late maestro in his home town of Salzburg. In a live shooting from the imposing Salzburg Cathedral, Claudio Abbado conducted an all- Mozart programme, honouring his predecessor both by the careful selection of the music and the singers. The Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Claudio Abbado, performed Mozart's Requiem in D minor, KV 626, among other works. Soprano Rachel Harnisch appeared as the soloist on the two complementing arias Betrachte dies mein Herz und frage mich and Laudate Dominum Featuring soprano Karita Mattila, contralto Sara Mingardo, tenor Michael Schade and bass baritone Bryn Terfel as soloists of the Requiem. A performance that in every respect met Karajan's own high artistic standards. Lovingly restored and carefully brought to HD, this unique performance of the Berliner Philharmoniker at Salzburg Cathedral is now finally available on Blu-ray Disc.
Harnoncourt discovers many unfamiliar treasures… Harnoncourt clearly loves every bit of this music… The performances are characteristic of his pioneering work with Concentus Musicus. (The Guardian)