Mozart, Requiem Mass
Bach, Sacred Cantatas
As I have written before, it is no exaggeration to attribute the beginning of the Monteverdi revival to Harnoncourt's traversal of the composer's operas, in the 1970s at the Zurich Opera, in stagings by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. Equally influential was the Beethoven symphony cycle with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, in many ways the beginning of the colonization of post-Baroque music by historically informed performance specialists. Harnoncourt's was a career not without misfires, but as Warner is in the midst of reissuing the conductor's early achievements for Das Alte Werk (Teldec), collectors can again explore that most important phase of his career.
For the most part, Harnoncourt's later recordings with mainstream orchestras are not generally among my favorite interpretations. In the last two decades, he went further and further into the 19th- and even 20th-century repertoire, recording Schubert, Schumann, Dvořák, Brahms, and Bruckner, for example. His work in these areas — and in some of his later recordings of classical works — often struck me as excessively mannered, even erratic (and I am not the only one), but there are exceptions. His recording of the Verdi Requiem and a new recording of Bach cantatas have come in for high praise from our European correspondent.
Other Remembrances: MTV (!), The Telegraph, New York Times, Deutsche Welle, Washington Post, Le Monde