The difference! I wrote earlier about this work, but then in a really disappointing performance of just four years earlier. When listening to this performance, it seemed to me like heaven opens up. There is so much energy in this performance! Though the total playing time is not that much shorter than the other one, it seems like it is played much faster, much more open. I urge you to try the difference.
Harnoncourt also made the first historically informed performance of the work. I’m pretty sure that this is the reason for the more open character of this performance. Maybe the orchestra is smaller, the choir consists of boys, making the whole thing less ‘weighty’.
The soft tones of the King’s College Choir can bring tears to my eyes, but also the voices of the soloists are inspiring. I’m sorry, I got nothing but praise for this outstanding work.
Johann Nikolaus Graf de la Fontaine und d’Harnoncourt-Unverzagt was born in Berlin, but as an Austrian citizen. He is a descendant of the Holy Roman Emperors, so I suppose he was born in a good family. They moved to Graz in Austria when he was still young, and he studied music there. He started as a cellist in the Vienna Symphony, a pretty good place to learn the trade.
In 1969 he stopped his career there to become a fulltime conductor. By that time he already had his own ensemble, the Concentus Musicus Wien. From 1970 onwards he started conducting and recording bigger works.
He died in 2016 at the age of 86.