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)
Nikolaus Harnoncourt is one of the few true stars among conductors worldwide. Performances like the New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra enable him to reach an audience of millions, displaying the characteristic passion and fiery intensity that identify him, first and foremost, as a true servant of his art. His first opera production dates from 1971, when he conducted Monteverdi‘s “Il ritorno d‘Ulisse in patria” at the Theater an der Wien, and soon after this he embarked on a fruitful cooperation with Jean-Pierre Ponnelle at the Zurich Opera. Harnoncourt has maintained his close connection with the Zurich Opera to this day. Arthaus Musik presents two of his legendary Zurich productions in this unique Opera Collection. Staged by the famous director Jürgen Flimm, with renowned stars of the opera scene as Cecilia Bartoli, Rodney Gilfry, Liliana Nikiteanu and Roberto Saccà, this recordings are true highlights of Maestro Harnoncourt‘s work.
This is a movie version of Cosi in which the performers lip synch to a pre-recorded sound track. I expected it to detract mightily from the quality of the production, but it doesn't for two reasons. First, the lip synching is just about flawless. I don't recall seeing lips moving without the words matching (although there's a slight change in the tone of the audio as the singing starts and the soundtrack switches to "pre-recorded" mode). Second, the director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle gathered a first-rate group of performers, led by the great Edita Gruberova as Fiordiligi. Gruberova's "Per pieta" is reason alone to see (and hear) this production.By Toni Bernhard
Nikolaus Harnoncourt presents his reading of “La Finta giardiniera”, a long-forgotten wonderfully tragicomic opera by the young Mozart. Almost a quarter of a century ago Harnoncourt presented his reading of the rediscovered work on CD, but in this version from the Zurich Opera, the great Mozart magician conducted a staged production for the first time, making the premiere an event in itself. The Zurich Opera gathered a star studded cast for this production: Italian soprano Eva Mei, Spanish soprano Isabel Rey, Romanian mezzo Liliana Nikiteanu and Austrian tenor Rudolf Schasching. Tobias Moretti, a popular Austrian actor with a musical background presented this, his second opera staging, to high praise from audience and critics alike. He sees this opera about mistaken identities and true love within a hierarchical order as a play on societal conditions at the onset of the enlightenment.
What can anyone add to the praise that has deservedly been heaped on Robert King and the King's Consort's 11 discs of the complete sacred music of Vivaldi? Can one add that every single performance is first class – wonderfully musical, deeply dedicated, and profoundly spiritual?
Nikolaus Harnoncourt presents his reading of “La Finta giardiniera”, a long-forgotten wonderfully tragicomic opera by the young Mozart. Almost a quarter of a century ago Harnoncourt presented his reading of the rediscovered work on CD, but in this version from the Zurich Opera, the great Mozart magician conducted a staged production for the first time, making the premiere an event in itself.
‘Brilliant, invigorating, uplifting, King’s sacred music integrale shines like a beacon in a dark world that has largely lost the ability to engage with spiritual celebration. More prosaically, it now becomes the core reference archive for Vivaldi’s sacred music, a skilfully planned, superlatively engineered set of discs that will take an honoured place in recording history’ (Fanfare, USA)
Beethoven called Mozart's Requiem "wild and terrible", and that's what we get in Harnoncourt's new recording. Ominous dread hangs from every note of the dark opening measures, the Rex tremendae and Confutatis are driven with terrifying strength, and the supplications of the Lacrimosa, with their weeping stabbings of the orchestra, are freighted with emotional power. The Tuba mirum duet of bass soloist and trombone has a beauty almost never achieved in other readings. Nor does Harnoncourt overstep the stylistic boundaries of this classical-era work; rather, the intensity is heightened for being in the idiom of its time.