Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Concentus Musicus Wien – Mozart: The Last Symphonies, Instrumental Oratorium (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 104:24 minutes | 1,86 GB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Digital booklet | Source: HDTracks
Nikolaus Harnoncourt has spent more than sixty years exploring Mozart’s last three symphonies. The present album represents the results of this engagement. It is also his first recording of these three works with his own “instrument”, the Concentus Musicus Wien. This is a recording not of three independent works but of a single work in three sections: an “Instrumental Oratorium”.
These symphonies were written during one of the most productive but also one of the most difficult periods in Mozart’s life – within a matter of only a few weeks in the summer of 1788. They were entered under three separate dates in his Verzeichnüss aller meiner Werke – the thematic catalog of his works that he maintained from February 1784 until his death: the Symphony in E-flat major is dated June 26, the Symphony in G minor July 25 and the Symphony in C major August 10.
Mozart’s last three symphonies were composed quickly over a two-month period in 1788, and they have often been regarded as a group, due in part to the circumstances of how they were discovered after Mozart’s death, but also because of some unanswered questions. Were they intended to be published as a set, who were they written for, and were they even performed in Mozart’s lifetime? Nikolaus Harnoncourt adds another level of complexity to the mystery by claiming that these symphonies were actually composed as one work, an “Instrumental Oratorium,” comparable to the great choral oratorios that Mozart had studied at the time. The similarity of themes and motives, the perceived formal design of an introduction (K. 543), a middle section (K. 550), and a finale (K. 551), and the continuity of dramatic and expressive effects have convinced Harnoncourt that they are indeed unified in an original form that only Mozart could have conceived. Whatever one makes of this explanation, and whether it comes across in Harnoncourt’s vivid performances with Concentus Musicus Wien, is necessarily left to each listener to decide. There is nothing in the performances that differs wildly from other period-style performances, and close study would be needed for many listeners to recognize the thematic connections. However, with the thought in mind that these symphonies could be a single entity, unlike anything else composed in the Classical era, listeners may easily accept Harnoncourt’s theory as valid, if not merely thought-provoking. Beyond that, these are exciting performances that convey the music with explosive energy and vibrant colors, and they are highly recommended.
CD1 #01 – Symphony No. 39 in E-Flat Major, K. 543 – I. Adagio – Allegro
CD1 #02 – Symphony No. 39 in E-Flat Major, K. 543 – II. Andante con moto
CD1 #03 – Symphony No. 39 in E-Flat Major, K. 543 – III. Menuetto – Trio
CD1 #04 – Symphony No. 39 in E-Flat Major, K. 543 – IV. Allegro
CD1 #05 – Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 – I. Molto allegro
CD1 #06 – Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 – II. Andante
CD1 #07 – Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 – III. Menuetto. Allegretto – Trio
CD1 #08 – Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 – IV. Finale. Allegro assai
CD2 #01 – Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 ”Jupiter” – I. Allegro vivace
CD2 #02 – Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 ”Jupiter” – II. Andante cantabile
CD2 #03 – Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 ”Jupiter” – III. Menuetto. Allegretto – Trio
CD2 #04 – Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 ”Jupiter” – IV. Molto allegro
Produced by Martin Sauer.
Recorded: October 12–14, 2013 at Musikverein, Vienna, Austria.