Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart Symphonies 31 39 40 41/Schubert Symphony No 4|
Actors: Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Director: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Harnoncourt conducts Mozart his way
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 10/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"These two DVDs feature Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting the splendid Vienna Philharmonic in Mozart's Symphony No.31 'Paris' as well as Schubert's Symphony No.4 'Tragic'. He conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in Mozart's Symphonies No.39, 40 & 41. As an interesting bonus on the second DVD, Harnoncourt conducts the Sinfonieorchester des Sudwestfunks Baden-Baden in what's called "a filmic realization" of Schubert's Symphony No.9 'The Great'. Essentially a really long music video entitled Franz Schubert: Mein Traum (My Dream), complete with a large cast and a dramatic story, it lasts more than an hour.
Harnoncourt extracts period performances from the COE without period instruments, except for what appears to be early horns that add an earthy punch to the scores. These are hybrid performances. Tempos are fleet, strings play with very little vibrato, textures are clean and open, with a great deal of instrumental transparency that makes each of the melodic lines easy to hear and to follow. Harnoncourt appears to observe all of the indicated repeats: Mozart's symphonies time-out at between 35 and 45 minutes. Ears that are used to authentic performance practices will have no difficulty in responding to these extremely lithe performances. Traditionalists may find the speedy tempi and slightly thinner orchestral sound not to their liking. The COE is an exemplary ensemble and play brilliantly under Harnoncourt. Some of the Mozart - the introduction to Symphony No.39, the second and last movements of Symphonies No.40 & 41 - seem to lose a portion of their Mozartean lilt and beauty because of their briskness and lighter texture. Nevertheless, this is ultimately a personal response to the music. If you prefer your Mozart beautifully languorous and sensuously lavish, then these performances are probably not for you. Fans of a cleaner, punchier Mozart will enjoy them. He conducts the Vienna Philharmonic with a similar effect in Mozart's Symphony No.31 'Paris'. The same holds true for Schubert's somewhat smaller in inspiration Symphony No.4. Some of their elan is lost in favor of crispness and velocity.
The film is an interesting bonus, the musical performance slightly less focused than with the COE. All in all, these performances represent a modern interpretation which will please those to whom those words do not produce an immediate shudder. The performances were recorded in 1983, 1984 and 1991. Both picture and sound are splendid. Sound is available in PCM stereo and DTS 5.1. Total time of the two discs is 232 minutes.
The bottom line is this: how you enjoy these performances depends entirely on how you respond to period performance practice. If you enjoy the concomitant briskness and instrumental clarity, then you will enjoy these performances immensely. If you prefer the older style of Mozart performance, you may not be as pleased. Recommended but with that caveat.
gpk | Forest Grove, OR, United States | 07/18/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At the time of this recording (1983/84, 1991), Harnoncourt's performances were still considered revelatory, today they are almost mainstream. Excepting the valveless trumpets in the Mozart symphonies, no period instruments are used and the players frequently employ vibrato. These are impressive Mozart interpretations, and the Schubert "Tragic" displays some unexpected sharp edges and gravitas. Both audio and video betray their age, but are perfectly fine. I will not watch the "bonus" again, a "filmic realization of Schubert's Symphony no. 9," in form of a disjointed, postmodernist narrative of dreams and life's journey underpinned by Schubert's music and interspersed with shots of Harnoncourt sternly conducting the (invisible) Südwestfunk Baden-Baden Symphony Orchestra. Why not give the set's buyer the actual film of the concert performance instead of this inane production by Norbert Beilharz? The music has plenty of depth in itself and does not need an infusion of superficial "meaning"."