Concentus Musicus Wien

The ensemble was established in 1953. It was founded by a superb instrumentalist of the Wiener Symphoniker, Nicolaus Harnoncourt, who, during his studies, fathoming the secrets of viola da gamba techniques, carried out research into theoretical sources from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His interests were focused on the techniques of performance in the Baroque period. The instrumentalists of Concentus Musicus have mainly been members of Wiener Symphoniker. In the group established by N. Harnoncourt they played on instruments from the pre-classical period, or on modern replicas. The first public performances of the ensemble, which took place in 1957 in Vienna in Schwarzenberg Palace were at the same time a beginning of the great international careers of the band. Since 1962 they have constantly been making recordings; among others their releases contain the most renowned works by C.Monteverdi, F.Handel, J.S.Bach, and J.P.Rameau. Since 1971 they have been involved in permanent co-operation with the "Teldec" company, for which they have recorded all the cantatas by Bach, the stage works by Monteverdi, H. Purcell, and W. A. Mozart. The recording of the Mass in B minor by Bach, of three operas and of The Vespers by Monteverdi laid completely new paths in the performance of early music. These recordings have also won the acclaim of German critics.

Concentus Musicus performs regular concerts in Vienna and in Europe. Their first US and Canada tour took place in 1966/67, featuring the composition Il ritorno d`Ulisse in patria by Monteverdi, the score for which had been taken from the manuscript stored in Vienna. The Concentus Musicus ensemble was one of the first to have been involved in practical performance of historic musical pieces. For the performance of the opera Lucio Silla by Mozart and an oratorio Theodora by Handel, the band received, in 1990 and 1991, the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik. Every season brings new, superb performances and recordings. In 1993 it was the presentation in Salzburg of L`incoronazzione de Poppea by Monteverdi, in 1994 The Fairy Queen by Purcell, in 1995 the scenic presentation of the opera by Haydn: L`animo del filosofo ossia, Orfeo ed Euridice during the on Wiener Festwochen; a concert performance of Il Re Pastore by Mozart in Vienna, Rome and Paris. The 1997/98 season saw performances of Mozart, Handel, and Haydn's works in numerous European countries and at the festival in Graz, where the orchestra has been regularly performing for 12 years. In 1998 "Teldec" celebrated the fortieth anniversary of Das Alte Werk, in which Concentus Musicus played a major part. In July 1999 the ensemble gave their first performance in London's Promenade Concert season.

 

Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Austrian conductor, cellist and viola da gamba musician was born in 1929 in Berlin. His childhood and youth were spent in Graz (Austria), where, in 1945 he studied the cello with P. Grümmer. From 1948 he studied under the supervision of E.Brabec in the Akademie für Musik und Darstellende in Vienna. After 1952, for 17 years, he was a cellist in the Wiener Symphoniker Orchestra. In 1953, together with his wife - a violinist, they founded in Vienna Concentus Musicus, an ensemble specialising in performances of early music on old instruments or their replicas. The orchestra first performed publicly in 1957 and created a sensation with its new methods of performing the music of the Baroque. Then they released their first record. Between 1972 and 1993 Harnoncourt delivered regular lectures on musical practice at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. The result of this work is two books. One of them, entitled: Musik als Klangrede. Wege zu einem neuen Musikverständnis was translated into Polish (Music as an Argot of Sounds). In the book's afterword the author wrote:" The article On interpretation of early music dates back to 1954 and is my first written statement in this field, and simultaneously constitutes a credo of the Concentus Musicus ensemble, which was established at that time".

Since 1972 the artist has conducted many operatic works (from Monteverdi to Johann Strauss) at theatres in Milan, Zurich, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Vienna; he has also performed concerts with well-known orchestras. In 1981, in co-operation with the Concertgebouw orchestra of Amsterdam he began recordings of all symphonies, operas and choral works by W. A. Mozart. He has released several hundred recordings, and participated in numerous television films. They have all established his fame (and have resulted in numerous prizes: Prix Mondial du Disque for Idomeneo by Mozart, Deutscher Schallplatten Preis for Mozart's Requiem), and they also constitute evidence of his long musical experiences.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt has received many prizes and honorary medals. These include: The Erasmus of Rotterdam Award (1980), "The Golden Needle" of the German Musical Critics (1985), Grammy Prize for the best classical music album, Polar Music Prize (1994) and The Great Prize Of Musical Critique (1994). The artist is also a member of The Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and holds an honorary doctorate at the University of Edinburgh.

Kurt Azesberger

Was born in Linz, and there he sang as a boy choristor in St. Florian's church. After his studies in the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz he continued his education at the Musikhochschule in Vienna under Hilde Rössel-Majdan and Kurt Equiluz. In 1987 he graduated with honours in the class of song (Lied) and oratorial performance. He participated in master classes, among others in Peter Schreier's class (the topic was the interpretation of the passions by J. S. Bach). In 1991 he was awarded the Mozart Prize from the Austrian Department of Education and Arts - an award intended for young musicians.

Kurt Azesberger is regularly invited to international festivals, including those in Salzburg, Linz, Carinthia, Graz, Vienna and Edinburgh. The artist is one of the best interpreters of the Evangelist's part in Bach's passions. He has performed this part with celebrated orchestras and conductors, among others: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Concentus Musicus Wien under the baton of N.Harnoncourt, F.Welser-Möst, RFrühbeck de Burgos, RChailly, M.Gielen, P.Schreier, M.Plasson, B.Weil, H.Srein, A.Ostman, C.Abbado, P.Herreweghe, H.Rilling.

In the season 1993/94 Kurt Azesberger made his debut in the part of Titus in La Clemeza di Tito in Landestheater in Linz, after that he sang the part of Aegistos in Electra by R. Strauss, under the baton of F. Welse-Möst. In 1994/95 he made a debut in the Staatsoper in Berlin under D. Barenboim. In subsequent seasons he sang leading parts in the Volksoper in Vienna. In Salzburg he performed as the Evangelist in The St Matthew Passion by Bach and in Gurrelieder by Schönberg.

In the year 2000 the artist will appear in cantatas by Mozart (Salzburg), in the part of the Evangelist in Bach's St John Passion and in the St Matthew Passion (with N.Harnoncourt), in The Creation by Haydn and in Gurrelieder by Schönberg. At the festivals in Salzburg and Baden-Baden he will perform in Idomeneo.

Kurt Azesberger records for the radio, and also for record companies.

James Taylor

Was born in 1966 in Dallas (Texas). Studied in a singing class under Arden Hopkins at Texas Christian University, where he graduated in 1991 as Bachelor of Music Education. In the same year he obtained a Fulbright scholarship and left for the Munich Hochschule für Musik, where he continued his studies with Adalbert Kraus and Daphne Evangelatos, and in 1993 he obtained a diploma in a master class. In the years 1992-94 he was a member of Operatic Studio at Bayerische Staatsoper; later he became engaged, on a visiting basis, with the Théatre de la Monnaie in Brussels and the Staatstheater in Stuttgart. In 1997 he participated, with great success, in the production of Orpheus by L.Rossi, performed during the Boston Early Music Festival. Together with the Boston Baroque Orchestra, one could hear him in the part of Fernando in Mozart's Cosí fan tutte. In the year 2000 he will perform in May at the festival in Schwetzingen and in August at the Festival of Early Music in Innsbruck, singing the part of Nettuno in La divisione del mondo by Legrenzi.

His greatest achievements in recent years have been performances of Mozart's Bastien und Bastienne with a Canadian Baroque orchestra - Tafelmusik, the Requiem by Mozart with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of M.Honeck and with H.Haenchen in Bayerischer Rundfunk, and the Mass in B minor by Bach in Norddeutscher Rundfunk. In the year 2000 James Taylor will sing arias in The St John Passion by Bach during the tour of the Viennese Concentus Musicus, conducted by N. Harnoncourt. For the year 2001 Franz Welser-Möst has invited him to participate in productions of Buch mit sieben Siegeln by Schmidt with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra.

James Taylor increasingly devotes himself to song. Together with a celebrated lutenist, Paul O'Dette, he performed at the Oregon Bach Festival in the 'evening of English song' to the accompaniment of the lute. Together with his accompanist, Donald Sulzen, they worked out different programmes of song concerts, among others he re-arranged the American programme, which he performed for the first time in January 2000 in Norddeutscher Rundfunk in Hannover, with great success. In November 2000 he will appear with Julie Kaufmann at an 'evening of American song' in a series of performances of the Bayerische Staatsoper. The first undertaking in association with Irwin Gage has been scheduled for January 2001, with whom, in April 2001, in the company of Julie Kaufmann, Birgit Remmert and Dietrich Henschel they are planning to tour Italy.

The numerous recordings of James Taylor include: The Stabat Mater by Dvorak, The Messiah by Handel, Magnificat, Mass in A major and the St John Passion by Bach under the baton of H. Rilling (Hänssler) and - together with Ph. Herreweghe - the Missa Solemnis by Beethoven and Paulus by Mendelssohn (Harmonia Mundi).

Anton Scharinger

He was born in central Austria. As a twenty-year-old student at the conservatory in Vienna he received an invitation to work with the Landestheater in Salzburg, where he made his debut in the part of Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosí fan tutte. His international career began with his performances in the Mozart operas: The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro under the baton of N. Harnoncourt. He sang the parts of Figaro and Papageno during a series of Mozart performances in Zurich, as Leporello at the Festival d`Aix-en-Provence, constantly refining his skills.

Anton Scharinger can be regularly seen and heard in the opera in Zurich, at La Scala in Milan, the Staastsoper in Vienna, and in theatres in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Paris, Rome, Chicago and Buenos Aires.

The repertoire of the artist encompasses not only operatic roles, but also the baritone parts in great oratorios by J.S.Bach, J.Haydn and G.F.Handel. He has performed at concerts in association with such celebrated conductors as: N.Harnoncourt, G.Solti, R.Chailly, RFrühbeck de Burgos, B.Haitink, N.Santi, F.Welse-Möst, G.Prêtre, A.Dorati, S.Celibidache, K.Penderecki, W.Christie and Ch. von Dohnányi.

Ruth Ziesak

She studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt. Her teacher from the age of fifteen was Elsa Cavelti. She made her debut in 1988 at the Stadtstheater in Heidelberg; in the 1990/91 season she was a member of the ensemble Deutsche Oper am Rhein. She was awarded several international prizes, including the first place in the song category at the famous competition in `s-Hertogenbosh. She acquired International repute in 1991 at the Salzburg Festival in the role of Pamina in Mozart's Magic Flute under Sir Georg Solti. In the following seasons she made a debut as Pamina in La Scala, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin, Semper Oper in Dresden, at the Stuttgart opera, at the Teatro Comunale in Florence and at the Viennese Staatsoper; in 1993 she performed the part of Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart in the Bastille Theatre in Paris and in the part of the Baron's Wife in The Poacher by Lortzing. In 1996/97 season she made her first appearance at Covent Garden as Ighina in Palestrina by Pfitzner, under Ch. Thielemann.

The artist also appears at concerts and in recitals, regularly co-operates with the Orchestre de Paris, with orchestras in Philadelphia and Cleveland, with philharmonics in Berlin and Vienna, the Bayerische Rundfunk, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and with Leipzig's Gewandhaus. She performs in Europe, USA and Japan. Her recital debut took place in Konzerthaus in Vienna in 1991; since which time she has regularly appeared in different cities and festivals.

Ruth Ziesak has made numerous recordings of vocal and instrumental music (Decca) and of operas, including: Mozart's Magic Flute (G. Solti/Decca), Fidelio by Beethoven (Ch.von Dohnányi/Decca), La Clemenza di Tito by Mozart and Genevieve by Schumann (N.Harnoncourt/Teldec), Der Freischutz by Weber (M.Janowski/BMG), Hansel and Gretel by E.Humperdinck (Runnicles/Teldec). She has also released an album Das Italienische Liederbuch (BMG), songs by Wolf, Brahms and Schumann (Sony), songs by Wolf, Strauss, Debussy, Reimann and Schubert (Harmonia Mundi).

Robert Holl

Was born in Rotterdam. There, he studied under the supervision of Jan Veth and David Hollestelle. In 1991 he won his first prize at the International Vocal Competition in s`Hertogenbosch, after which he continued his studies with Hans Hotter in Munich. After several years of singing at concerts, Robert Holl became interested in opera. He performed at the Staatsoper in Vienna, in Mozart's (Cosi fan tutte, The Magic Flute and The Barber of Seville) and G. Rossini's operas (Semiramide), at theatres in Brussels and Zurich. His part of Hans Sachs in Wagner's The Master Singers of Nuremberg at the theatre in Bayreuth was a great success. In the spring of 1995 he sang in Tannhäuser under the baton of Daniel Barenboim at the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin. During the following seasons he sang in Wagner's operas in Berlin and at the Wiener Staatsoper. Then he also appeared in concert programmes in Europe, USA and Japan.

Robert Holl conducts master classes in Holland, Austria and Canada, performs on the radio and television, releases numerous records with renowned conductors and other artists (e.g. András Schiff and Oleg Maisenberg). The artist also composes songs and piano compositions (released by Doblinger). In 1991 he received the prestigious title of Kammersänger In 1997 he became an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna; a year later becoming a professor of singing at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna.

Marjana Lipov¹ek

Was born in Lubljana in Slovenia. She is a daughter of the composer Marjan Lipov¹ek. At first she studied piano and the theory of teaching. Being a student of the Musikhochschule in Graz, she decided to continue her career as a singer. She worked in the Staatsoper in Vienna. She was a member of an ensemble in Hamburg, where she sang, among others, the roles of: Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Marina in Boris Godunov and Ulrika in The Masked Ball. Very successful was her performance at the festival in Braganza in the part of Delilah in Samson and Delilah by Saint-Saëns; this part she sang also in Berlin, Vienna and Paris. At the festival in Braganza she sang her first Carmen.

During recent seasons she has been singing leading parts in the most celebrated theatres all over the world: in operas Tristan and Isolda by Wagner, Il Trovatore, Aida by Verdi (Vienna, Berlin), The Coronation of Poppea by Monteverdi (Salzburg), Falstaff by Verdi (La Scala, Salzburg, Berlin), The Ring of the Nibelungen by Wagner (Munich, Chicago).

She has recorded many operas with distinguished ensembles and conductors, including Electra (Sawallisch/EMI), Orpheus and Euridice (Hager/Ariola) and Requiem by Verdi (C.Abbado/DG), Das Rheingold and The Twilight of the Gods by Wagnera (B.Haitink/EMI), Hansel and Gretel by A.Humperdinck (J.Tate/EMI), Boris Godunov by Mussorgski (C.Abbado/Sony) and Bach's passions under the baton of P Schreier.

She was awarded Grand Prix du Disque for her recording of Cornet by F.Martin, a special prize from the jury of the "Nouvelle Academie du Disque Francais". She also received a prestigious title of the Bavarian Kammersängerin in 1993 and an identical prize was granted to her in Vienna in May 1996. In the same year she received the gold Gustav Mahler medal.

 



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