This is the sixth set in this comprehensive and excellent Handel edition from Warner. This volume deals with an important oratorio in the shape of "Saul" as well as the "Utrecht Te Deum" and the famous "Ode for St. Cecilia's Day" and "Alexander's Feast", another splendid cantata. The recordings date from the early 1970's to 1990 and come from the prolific Teldec stable under the indefatigable Nikolaus Harnoncourt who conducts in his exemplary no nonsense fashion. "Saul' is a fine interpretation although I still feel that John Eliot Gardiner comes to the core of the work better. "Ode for St. Cecilia's Day' is also given a pomp and circumstance treatment whilst the Utrecht Te Deum is winningly done. The team of soloists is also very good and the recordings are fine and well balanced in proper Teldec tradition. There are also some rarities thrown in for good measure such as the excerpts from "Giulio Cesare" and the ubiquitous cantata, "Apollo e Dafne", both which receive splendidly invigorating performances. Full texts and translations of the works are available online and the booklet is well presented with some interesting photographs. Those who are new to Handel could do far worse than collect this exemplary edition.(Gerald Fenech)
Nikolaus Harnoncourt has received numerous international awards for his work: Nikolaus Harnoncourt is an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and the Konzerthausgesellschaft in Vienna (since 1992), he holds honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh and the Mozarteum music college in Salzburg, and is an honorary member of the Graz and Vienna colleges of music. He was awarded the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 2002 and the Stockholm Polar Prize, and in 2005 he was honoured with the Kyoto Prize, the world's most important independent cultural award bestowed on outstanding international personalities from the arts and sciences. There are nearly 500 recordings in Nikolaus Harnoncourt's discography, which have been awarded all the major international Classical prizes, including a Grammy in 2002 for his recording of the St Matthew Passion
Händel Georg Friedrich was a German-English Baroque composer, who became internationally famous for his operas, oratorios, and concerti grossi. Handel was born in 1685, at Halle in Germany, in the same year when Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti were born.
Despite what the Gramophone says, I think this is the best digital Fidelio available. If you bought Harnoncourt's superb Beethoven cycle with the same orchestra, you will know what to expect: sharp tempos in early XIX Century fashion, and sensational orchestral playing. But there is also warmth and humanity in Harnoncourt's vision. This set reminds me of my favourite Fidelio: the Ferenc Fricsay recording in DG with Rysanek, Haefliger and DFD. Charlotte Margiono has the right voice for Leonore and gives an outstanding performance. The rest of the cast is also excellent.
Telemann's connection with Darmstadt is typical of a composer who cast his net widely on the path to becoming Germany's most acclaimed composer. Appointed to his Frankfurt post in 1712 Telemann was shrewd enough to realize that to 'get on' he needed to write music for the best. In instrumental terms, he was lucky enough to be based less than 20 miles from the Darmstadt court of Ernst Ludwig VII, a music-loving nobleman who had at his disposal a fine orchestra of musicians, many recruited from Paris, trained by the court Kapellmeister, Johann Christoph Graupner (known largely through his turning down the cantorate at St Thomas's Leipzig before Bach was reluctantly found to be an acceptable choice).
Pierre-Laurent Aimard continues to present a repertoire for the piano that is never less than imaginative and is always compelling. The Dvorák Piano Concerto is rarely heard, not because it lacks beauty or inventive scoring for both piano and orchestra, but because the piece has gained the reputation of the 'Tristan' of concertos. Enter Pierre-Laurent Aimard and all of that changes.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his period orchestra, Concentus Musicus Wien, never recorded a complete cycle of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, and this 2016 Sony release is their only recording of the Symphony No. 4 in B flat major and the Symphony No. 5 in C minor, made almost ten months before the conductor's death. Harnoncourt planned for this to be his last recording before his retirement, so it inevitably has the feeling of a valedictory performance, and one can also hear it as the orchestra's warm tribute to its leader and his sterling musicianship.
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)
La discographie de la musique religieuse de Mozart est dominée par la "Grande messe en ut mineur " et le "Requiem" au point de nous priver d'authentiques chefs-d'oeuvre, dont cette quatrième messe connue sous le nom de "Messe de l'orphelinat" ("Missa Solemnis" KV 139) …