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Historical recordings of conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, made in Salzburg in 1980 – CD Review, the 2nd of April 2024

(The Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra). Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Overture to "The Magic Flute"; Symphony no. 34 KV 338 in C major.

The legendary conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who died in 2016, had the merit to impose interpretations on historical instruments at Festspielhaus in Salzburg. His memorable debut in 1980 gave way to a long line of successes peaking with the Mozart Week in 2006, when the Austrian musician was Artist-in-residence in Salzburg and when he conducted a series of concerts - emblematic for his career, on the occasion of 250 years since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birth.

The recordings of Nikolaus Harnoncourt's concerts in Salzburg which contained Mozartian creations, made in 1980 at Concertgebouw Regal Orchestra of Amsterdam's rostrum, as well as rehearsals recorded at the helm of the Camerata Salzburg ensemble, were included in a three-records set released in November 2023 at the Belvedere Edition, a project by Naxos Music. The album showcases the way in which the illustrious conductor specialised in baroque and classical music influenced the style of interpretation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's creations during the last decades. Since 1980, Nikolaus Harnoncourt managed to convince the audience and the musicians to be open to the new interpretative techniques, in accordance with the practices from the 18th century, closely following the indications from the original sheet. The conductor calibrated the articulations, tempos, phrasings and orchestral textures to deliver authentic performances.The reactions in Salzburg were mixed - the musician received both vehement criticism and praise. What is certain is that his ideas spread around the world and became a basis for the research of the new generations of musicians.

Born in 1929 in Berlin, Nikolaus Harnoncourt was one of the most appreciated interpreters of early music, one of his major achievements being thecomplete recording of the cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach with the renowned Dutch musician Gustav Leonhardt. After studying in Vienna, Nikolaus Harnoncourt founded the ensemble ConcentusMusicus Wien, where he had the opportunity to put his ideas on the use of period instruments and the authentic performance of baroque music into practice, gradually expanding his repertoire to include 19th century music. In 1975 he was invited for the first time to conduct the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, laying the foundations for a long-lasting collaboration. In 2000, the ensemble chose him as its honorary conductor, and in October 2013 he appeared for the last time at the baton of the prestigious Dutch orchestra, conducting Bruckner's Fifth Symphony. Two years later, he would pass away. The conductor's collaboration with the Amsterdam ensemble resulted in priceless concerts and recordings, such as the one dedicated to Mozart's music in Salzburg in 1980.

Larisa Clempuș