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Nikolaus Harnoncourt turns 80 in December 2009, but still has the capacity to surprise! As his birthday present to himself he fulfilled a lifelong ambition to conduct Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess, and the performances at the 2009 Graz Festival, where this recording was made, met with unanimous acclaim and delight from critics and public alike Although the choice of repertoire might not at first seem natural for Harnoncourt, investigation shows that his meticulous musicological approach convinced him to record Gershwin’s masterpiece in a unique format. Rather than simply record all available material, Harnoncourt discovered that the composer, librettist and director revised the score after the initial performances of the opera, and subsequent performances had sections removed and new material added. It is this version, that preferred by the composer himself, that Harnoncourt has recorded Harnoncourt was honoured with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 Classic FM Gramophone Awards Ceremony, at which news of this recording was first officially announced Gramophone’s January 2010 issue (on sale December 2009) has Harnoncourt as it’s main cover feature, and includes an extensive interview with Maestro Harnoncourt, despite it being under 2 years since the conductor was last featured as their cover story Interest from other media is already pouring in, including from the broadsheet newspapers and all the major classical music magazines and radio stations. The album will be advertised in Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine amongst other targeted publications. Videos from the Graz Festival performances are on YouTube and debates from intrigued opera lovers are taking place on various internet forums, this recording is already a talking point among the public!
“a true visionary” Gramophone
18th December 2009
“Where Harnoncourt succeeds is in blending dramatic intimacy and scale –hence the three discs and a three-hour playing time – with a widescreen approach to the music that is exuberant and alive, orchestral details leaping to the foreground, textures polished and gleaming with new-spun vitality, and topped by luminescent choral singing.”
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