This symphony is the first segment of the famous symphonic triptych
composed by Mozart in the summer of 1788. Although we do not know exactly
why Mozart wrote these three symphonic masterpieces at that time, it is
assumed that they were intended for a series of concerts in Vienna. Despite
his waning popularity in Vienna and his desperate financial situation,
Mozart succeeded in forgetting his daily concerns and created a masterpiece
of good spirits and self-confidence. The stately introduction leads into a
graceful, urbane theme that seems to flow without effort. But a highlight
of this work is the Trio of the Minuet, a pastoral Ländler for woodwinds
that contrasts strikingly with the pounding energy of the Minuet.
A musician's musician, an occasional firebrand and a constant paradox -
Nikolaus Harnoncourt (born in 1929) is one of the most profound and
intriguing conductors of our time. Considered one of the world's leading
specialists of Baroque music, he has long since turned his attention to
Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and even to Jacques Offenbach and Johann
Strauss. He spent many years as a cellist with the Wiener Symphoniker
before founding the "Concentus Musicus Wien" with his wife Alice in 1953.
It soon became one of the world's most respected ensembles specializing in
the performance of early music on original instruments. In the 1970s,
Harnoncourt joined forces with Jean-Pierre Ponnelle to stage a series of
Monteverdi operas at the Zurich Opera House. This universally acclaimed
cycle contributed to a renaissance of Monteverdi's music and set standards
for early Baroque performance practice.
Harnoncourt later began to turn his attention more and more to the music of
Mozart, whom he considers "the most romantic of all composers". His concept
of Mozart's music ran counter to the prevailing 20th-century views,
however. He sees Mozart's music as "dramatic, dynamic, often directly and
highly emotional." The Vienna Philharmonic, known for its suave and
gracious Mozartian interpretations, initially rebelled against
Harnoncourt's unconventional approach. Yet the compellingness of his vision
soon came to be accepted and shared by all members of the orchestra. In
this recording, Harnoncourt conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.