A Beethoven evening with Nikolaus Harnoncourt

29/10/2011

Berliner Philharmoniker
Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Rundfunkchor Berlin

  • Ludwig van Beethoven
    Mass in C major (00:58:31)

    Simon Halsey Chorus Master, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Julia Kleiter Soprano, Werner Güra Tenor, Florian Boesch Bass, Elisabeth von Magnus Mezzo-Soprano

  • Ludwig van Beethoven
    Symphony No. 5 in C minor (00:41:16)

  • free

    Nikolaus Harnoncourt in conversation with Olaf Wilhelmer (00:17:07)

The actually simple yet so dramatic opening chords of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony are the symbol for classical music par excellence. Some music lovers even believe they know the work too well to be able to enjoy further performances. For them – and of course for all the others – this concert with Nikolaus Harnoncourt is particularly good news.

Harnoncourt, more than almost anyone else, is able to reveal overlooked aspects, even in the most popular of works and, thanks to intensive study of the sources, gain new insights into historical performance practice. Nevertheless, his interpretations are not musicological lectures, but wrestle – especially in Beethoven – with expression and drama. There is a recording of a rehearsal of the Fifth Symphony, which makes this clear when Harnoncourt compares the powerful beginning of the finale to a “ten-foot crocodile tearing open his mouth”.

Although Nikolaus Harnoncourt is known primarily as the conductor of his period-instrument ensemble Concentus Musicus, he also performs with a small number of symphony orchestras. These have included the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1991. They now understand each other so well, that the orchestra responds “fire service-like” (Berliner Morgenpost) to the instructions of the conductor. A highlight of this partnership was in 2000, when Harnoncourt was presented with the Hans von Bülow Medal, the highest accolade awarded by the Berliner Philharmoniker.