Monday, December 7, 2015

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Father of all Hipsters, on Spotify...

As as poor student, I often went to the free lunch concerts at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Often, it was a public rehearsal by the Concertgebouworchestra and I got to see the world’s greatest conductors “in action”. Bernard Haitink and Wolfgang Sawallisch meticulously going through the pages, or Chailly in a loose style, often unprepared. 
Not Harnoncourt. Harnoncourt was notorious for talking al the time during rehearsal.*
But what he did for the lunchconcert at Haydn’s 100th symphony, can only be described as “A Ted Talk avant la lettre”. He showed, the orchestra playing parts of the score, that in fact this “Military” symphony was an anti-military symphony and that Haydn hid many jokes in the score. And those eyes… I will never forget those piercing eyes…
I’ve known Harnoncourt of course from his 1970’s LP’s. Being from the generation of the 1980’s and 90’s I always marveled the bearded look on the sleeves. Looking back, I only can conclude Harnoncourt was the Father of all Hipsters ;-)

Around the time I visited the lunchconcert, 1993, Harnoncourt recorded the symphony with the Concertgebouworchestra. That recording starts the playlist. The first (second hand) LP I heard with Harnoncourt was a 1973 live recording from the Holland festival. Vivaldi and Handel come from that concert. One of my most played Harnoncourt CD’s is the Zelenka album from 1980. The weird “Hipocondrie” (describing a hypochondriac person) and the grand overture a 7 come from that CD.
Finally, his epoch making recording 1972 recording of Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium, using a boy treble for the soprano aria’s, a practice used in Bach’s own time. The Gramophone wrote in a survey about all BWV 248 recordings about this performance:
The essence of this pioneering reading is captured in the visceral, chamber-like instrumental playing of Concentus Musicus, a kind of Renaissance-style pageantry to the choruses, an intimate acoustic and the extraordinary veracity of Kurt Equiluz’s Evangelist.

Hope you will enjoy this selection!

*one of the orchestra members told me that the running gag in the orchestra was (in Dutch)
“Wat is het Franse woord voor ouwehoer? Harnoncourt…!”
("What is the French word for bullshitting? Harnoncourt …! “)

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
-Symphony nr 100 in G major “military” (1793)
Concertgebouw orchestra, rec 1993

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
-Concerto in G minor, Op. 10/2, RV 439 "La Notte" (1728)
Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759)
-Concerto No. 3 in G minor for oboe, strings & basso continuo, HWV 287 (1704-1705)
Concentus Musicus Wien
Live, Holland Festival 1973
Lutherse Kerk, the Hague 
June 26th 1973
Unnamed soloists from the orchestra.

Jan Dietmas Zelenka (1679-1745)
-Hipocondrie à 7 in A major zwv 187 (1723)
-Overture a 7 in Fmajor ZWV 188 (1723)
Concentus Musicus Wien, rec 1980

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Weihnachtsoratorium BWV 248 (1734)
Concentus Musicus Wien
Paul Esswood, Kurt Equiluz, Siegmund Nimsgern, 
den Wiener Sängerknaben und dem Chorus Viennensis
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

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