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Mozart: March In D Major K. 335, Serenade In D Major K. 320 "Posthorn-Serenade" & Symphony In D Major K. 385 "Haffner-Sinfonie"

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  • Performer: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
  • Audio CD (20 Jan. 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music Classical
  • ASIN: B00C5WR6KI
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,401 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Recorded at the Golden Hall in the Musikverein Vienna in 2012, this is two of the most important works of Mozart’s ‘middle’ period that Harnoncourt has never recorded with a period-instrument orchestra before. Harnoncourt is well known for his unique interpretation of Mozart and this is reflected by the highly flexible playing and phrasing from the orchestra. This album marks the 60th anniversary of the collaboration between Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Concentus Musicus Wien.

The Posthorn Serenade, written in 1779 for the student’s farewell at the end of term at Salzburg University, is one of Mozart’s longest and most varied instrumental works, a plethora of musical characters typical of Mozart’s serenades and a unique blend of elements of dance, solo concerto and symphonic writing. Its rendering here is preceded by a March (KV 335 /1) which, according to Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s musical research, was played in Salzburg in 1779 before the actual performance started.

Mozart’s symphony No. 35, the Haffner Symphony (named after the Salzburg family who commissioned the work in 1782), was originally conceived as a serenade as well. Written in a particularly festive and serene style making best use of the orchestra’s virtuosic possibilities, it’s the shortest of Mozart’s mature symphonies and one of the most popular and effective ones. The new recording marks the first time Nikolaus Harnoncourt revisits the piece after his epoch-making version of 1980 (with Concertgebouw Orkest).

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I do not agree at all with the previous review. I listened to the Serenade live in Vienne. Now I listen to it again on CD. I think the execution was wonderful: the warmth of the strings, the sweetness of the winds, the synthesis of pathos and joyful enthusiasm are exceptional. Harnoncourt penetrates the significance of this music like no one did: you listen and you realize the joy of a party and the sadness of a goodbye. The Serenade of Karl Bohm sounds elegant, Apollonian, but pompous and plaster. With Harnoncourt you enter the realm of eighteenth-century musical discourse: an abrupt transition, perhaps, but beneficial. Also notable is the execution of the Haffner Symphony: aggressive, swirling, imaginative. It may be interesting to compare with other recent and beautiful version: the one conducted by Claudio Abbado (Archiv). If this is distinguished by its smooth and elegant sound of the strings, the Concentus Musicus Wien expresses explosive sounds emphasizing the role of natural horns and trumpets.Two different philosophies, two interpretive approaches interesting and complementary. The work of Harnoncourt, who now plays the masterpieces of Mozart on period instruments, has a precise sense of art: it is able to highlight emotions and meanings of the musical discourse in a way unheard of.
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Format: Audio CD
In an age of See-MOHN-uh Dinnerstein and that Lang Lang bugger, all power to Sony for underwriting a venture of this kind. May the largesse continue! Harnoncourt recorded the Posthorn Serenade in 1983 with the Staatskapelle Dresden. Its quirks notwithstanding, it was a hoot. Here with a lesser orchestra in every way, I cannot detect anything revelatory that justifies a revisit. Indeed, this is another instalment of Harnoncourt Muesli: whilst it is not without nutrition, its lumpy phrasing, momentum-destroying pauses and explosive accents are a trial. Does Harnoncourt parody himself in the Menuetto with the piccolo and posthorn? I suggest so. It's more of a shocker than `Old Sparky' at Sing Sing. Whilst intonation is good, the strings of Concentus Musicus Wien are skeletal and without allure. Guys and gals - stop being monstered by an oboe!

Serenades and symphonies are different genres. The first predicates charm. As one listens to this disc across both works, the one approach is in place and mechanically so. Worse still, charm is in short supply in the Posthorn: the trio of the first Minuet and the Concertante itself bear testimony to this.

The rolled oats, rye flakes, dried dates, chopped walnuts, pecans, sliced almonds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, raisins and dried fruits are also on offer in the Haffner Symphony. The opening bars in the development of the first movement are ever so ordinary. Where is the tension? The clipped phrasing in the Andante is the stuff of dreams (the bad ones); it actually brings to mind the second subject of Haydn's La Poule - here, chook, chook, chook!
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depending on your predisposition toward Harnoncourt, a pretty good outing for the octogenarian 22 April 2014
By John J. Puccio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Maestro Harnoncourt starts off the program with Mozart's little March No. 1 in D Major, K.335, a brief but energetic piece that serves as an appropriate curtain-raiser for the album. Given Harnoncourt's years (b. 1929) he leads a sprightly performance. There appears to be no slowing down with age for him, for good or for bad depending on your point of view about such things. Moreover, even though the band itself must have turned over many times, they sound as attentive as ever. Maybe more so, as they appear more spry as the decades pass.

Next, we get Mozart's Serenade for Orchestra No. 9 in D Major, K. 320, also called the "Posthorn Serenade." It consists of seven movements: an Adagio, a Minuetto, an Andantino, a Rondeau, an Andante, another Minuetto, and a Finale. Mozart wrote the piece in 1779, and it got its nickname from the use of a post horn in the second minuet, the piece also featuring an oboe, flute, and flautino prominently.

I mentioned earlier that Harnoncourt leads a lively performance of the march, and he does likewise in the "Posthorn." Understand, however, that I'm not necessarily referring to ultrafast tempos. Indeed, Harnoncourt takes things at an easy, listenable pace most of the time, never leaving one breathless as some period performances can. Instead, the conductor seems intent on drawing out all the melodic lines as well as emphasizing the rhythms in as cozy a manner as possible, even though he can attack the contrasts with vigor. The result I might better describe as being alive, perhaps not the most exciting reading you'll ever hear, but one that's entertaining, with an ever-so-slightly darker tone as well.

Finally, we get the center attraction, the Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385 (or the "Haffner" Symphony because a prominent Salzburg family, the Haffners, commissioned it). Mozart wrote the work in 1782, taking much of the material from an earlier piece he had written for the Haffner family, the equally famous "Haffner" Serenade.

Mozart wrote of the Haffner Symphony that "The first Allegro must be really fiery, the last as fast as possible." Here, Harnoncourt follows the composer's instructions well enough, although he varies the tempo internally so much that it never sounds as frenetic as it sometimes can. Harnoncourt produces undoubted thrills without resorting to a completely all-out attack on our sensibilities.

The succeeding Andante is as gracefully lyrical as Harnoncourt can make it without slowing it down to a crawl. The movement has a lovely lilt to it, a sweet dance-like quality that quickly and easily pleases the ear, and it's probably the highlight of the Harnoncourt program.

The conductor gets the Minuetto off to an appropriately forceful start before settling down to its more tranquil main theme, at which point it's reasonably lovely. Thankfully, Harnoncourt doesn't take the finale "as fast as possible," which would simply leave one panting for breath and destroy the score's musical integrity in the progress, so he compromises a tad, still providing plenty of vigorous momentum while slowing down enough to let the music breathe a little.

Of course, the bottom line for any new recording of an old warhorse is whether it's worth buying yet version of something one already has. I mean, given that practically every major conductor of the past sixty years has recorded the Haffner Symphony and the Posthorn Serenade in stereo, the competition is great. However, when you consider the number of period-instruments recordings there are of these works, the field becomes considerably smaller. Then when you consider the experience and authority Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his players bring to the works, maybe the recording is at least deserving of a listen.

The disc's sound is moderately close but without much edginess, harshness, or bright forwardness. In fact, it's pleasingly warm and mildly resonant, yet with a reasonably good degree of detail, too, a strong transient response, and a modest orchestral depth. It may not be absolute top-drawer audiophile sound but it is comfortable and revealing all the same.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful "Posthorn"; Oddball "Haffner" 6 Jun. 2015
By Huntley Haverstock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This disc contains two energetic, vivid performances. The "Posthorn" is full of Mozartean fun, with exceptionally articulate phrasing and wonderfully present sound. The woodwinds really get a chance to shine. There is a lot of transparency and texture that is all-too-often obscured by larger forces.

While the "Posthorn" is rendered wonderfully, I have some issues with Harnoncourt's rendition of the Haffner symphony. Harnoncourt has long had a reputation for eccentric readings - here he breaks up the line with oddball long pauses and rests that seem almost deliberately contrarian. This isn't so much historically informed as it is a "histrionically informed." Although Harnoncourt's Haffner has it's moments and is rendered in vivid detail with the enthusiatic playing of the Concentus Musicus Wein, it does not succeed artistically. Too bad because Harnoncourt's band sounds great on this disc.

Shortcomings aside, a few anti-HIP ideologues have given this recording an artificially low rating - don't let their philistinism fool you. Believe it or nor, there is room in this world for big-band Mozart AND the wonderfully alive and fresh sounding performances of period instrument ensembles. The issues with this disc have nothing to do with period instruments, but with a Harnoncourt's decision to take too much artistic liberty with the Haffner.

In summation, I highly recommend this disc, if only for the spirited, brilliantly recorded performance of the "Posthorn."
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars *** 1/2 Harnoncourt is stubbornly idiosyncratic in his aggressive style in Mozart 21 April 2014
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It's eye-opening to read that Harnoncourt founded the Concentus Musicus in 1953 - not a misprint - and is here to lead them in a diverse Mozart program at the age of 84. the skill of the musicians has risen considerably since I first heard their Bach in the sixties; they are as smooth and in-tune as any modern-instrument group, and nothing sounds scrawny or zingy. Harnoncourt, as vigorous as ever, hasn't altered his preference for punchy attacks in Mozart; he's a one-man band for dismantling the stereotype of Mozart as a refined or dainty composer, which is admirable. However, noting in the score justifies Harnoncourt's aggressive approach, but the "authenticity" school has always been a seat-of-the-paints, make-it-up-as -you-go movement, so no harm done. We live at a time when the most absurd extremes of the HIP gang wins approval in the Gramophone and other official outlets of musical opinion.

If this CD had come out years ago, Harnoncourt's decision to play Mozart as a semi-Baroque composer would have raised eyebrows. to be honest, the Posthorn Serenade has never fully held my attention when played with all repeats - in its original setting, the audience would have milled about, not sat stiffly in a concert hall - but of course its melodies are beautiful. Hanroncourt's sharper attacks and emphasized contrasts work well, for a spell at least. More startling is his aggressive lunge at the Haffner Sym., which loses all its charm in favor of propulsion and robust, detached phrasing - it amounts to an assault. Your reaction to the whole program will depend on how you vie Harnoncourt's stubbonrly idiosyncratic view of this composer.
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Eat your Grits - They're Good for You! 21 April 2014
By Bernard Michael O'Hanlon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In an age of See-MOHN-uh Dinnerstein and that Lang Lang bugger, all power to Sony for underwriting a venture of this kind. May the largesse continue! Harnoncourt recorded the Posthorn Serenade in 1983 with the Staatskapelle Dresden. Its quirks notwithstanding, it was a hoot. Here with a lesser orchestra in every way, I cannot detect anything revelatory that justifies a revisit. Indeed, this is another instalment of Harnoncourt Muesli: whilst it is not without nutrition, its lumpy phrasing, momentum-destroying pauses and explosive accents are a trial. Does Harnoncourt parody himself in the Menuetto with the piccolo and posthorn? I suggest so. It's more of a shocker than `Old Sparky' at Sing Sing. Whilst intonation is good, the strings of Concentus Musicus Wien are skeletal and without allure. Guys and gals - stop being monstered by an oboe!

Serenades and symphonies are different genres. The first predicates charm. As one listens to this disc across both works, the one approach is in place and mechanically so. Worse still, charm is in short supply in the Posthorn: the trio of the first Minuet and the Concertante itself bear testimony to this.

The rolled oats, rye flakes, dried dates, chopped walnuts, pecans, sliced almonds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, raisins and dried fruits are also on offer in the Haffner Symphony. The opening bars in the development of the first movement are ever so ordinary. Where is the tension? The clipped phrasing in the Andante is the stuff of dreams (the bad ones); it actually brings to mind the second subject of Haydn's La Poule - here, chook, chook, chook!

If you are on the hunt for K 320, check out Harnoncourt's earlier version on Warner - it's as cheap as chips (Posthorn Serenade). Better still is Uncle Karl's version with the Berlin Philharmonic from May 1970 where someone put a rocket up his marmoreal cake-hole - how the sparks fly! (Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik; Serenata notturna; Posthorn Serenade; Haffner Serenade).

Shun muesli à la Harnoncourt! Live big!
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