Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart Requiem Harnoncourt Concentus Music Wien|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
A 25-Year-Old Performance on Original Instruments
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 11/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This live performance of Mozart's Requiem was filmed on 1 November 1981 in the Musikverein in Vienna. As a bonus there is also a performance of Bach's Cantata 'Komm, du süsse Todesstudende', BWV 161. The forces are Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting his Concentus Musicus Wien, the chorus of the Vienna State Opera with soloists Rachel Yakar, soprano; Ortrun Wenkel, contralto; Kurt Equiluz, tenor; and Robert Holl, bass. Wenkel and Equiluz are the soloists in the Bach.
A couple of things distinguish this film from the many others of the Requiem. First, it is performed on original instruments by one of the earliest of the HIP ensembles, and second, it is in a somewhat modified orchestration by Franz Beyer who, it is said, studied Süssmayr's orchestration in his completion of the work and found it wanting. He reportedly made the instrumentation more spare and ascetic, feeling 'Mozart would have orchestrated the work differently' than Süssmayr. I frankly don't notice that much difference (although I am not a scholar of the work) except that Harnoncourt uses block flutes and basset horns as well as period trombones, hand horns and natural trumpets expected in a group of this sort. The soloists are fine. I particularly liked the rich sound of Ortrun Wenkel's contralto. Best of all is the chorus which sounds exceptionally fine, although the sound suffers a bit from the 1981 recording technique.
Other drawbacks to this DVD are the lack of subtitles, even of the original Latin (Mozart) or German (Bach) and no translations into other languages. This might not be important in the well-known Mozart, but certainly would have been helpful in the Bach cantata. The only sound option is LPCM stereo. TT (including both works) is 76mins.
The real problem arises when one compares this DVD with others currently available. In the original instruments category it is outshone by the John Eliot Gardiner version whose chorus is the nonpareil Monteverdi Choir and whose soloists are Barbara Bonney, Anne-Sofie von Otter, Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Alastair Miles. And his English Baroque Soloists are more than a match for Concertus Musicus Wien. Of course there are also a number of very fine modern instruments versions available, among them the more recent DVDs by Solti, Abbado and Colin Davis.
So, although this is a fine DVD, it is not at the head of the class. It probably will best serve those who are particular fans of Harnoncourt.