As with his 2006 Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Concert program, Mariss Jansons rings in 2012 with a fresh mix of traditional fare and novelties. Several selections appear for the first time on a New Year's concert, such as the Rathhaus-Ball-Tänze, where Johann Strauss II quotes now and then from The Blue Danube. Other Neujahrskonzert premieres include the younger Strauss' debonair, up-tempo polka Entweder-oder!, Josef Strauss' relatively laid back polka Artists' Greeting, Hans Christian Lumbye's Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop (complete with prerequisite chugging rhythms and train bell), and two selections from Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty.
Give Jansons credit also for presenting familiar favorites in unusual light. TheRead more Vienna Boys Choir, for example, joins in for Tritsch-Tratsch Polka (so much lighter and more playful than Claudio Abbado's heavier, similarly vocalized 1988 Neujahrskonzert traversal) and Feuerfest, while Pizzicato Polka's modest string orchestration is augmented by discreet percussive accents.
If Jansons makes Josef Strauss' old chestnut Jokey-Polka sound too tidy and straight-laced in comparison with Carlos Kleiber's nervous energy and ever so slight pressing ahead of the beat, buoyant inner rhythm and careful yet unfussy dynamic gradations invigorate Thunder and Lightning, The Blue Danube, and the inevitable Radetzky March encore. Sony/BMG's engineering vividly captures the orchestra's gorgeous sonorities and the overall sense of occasion, albeit without the robust impact distinguishing Ozawa 2002 (Philips) and Barenboim 2009 (Decca). All told, a superb and lovable release.
-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
The 2012 New Year's Concert with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (VPO) conducted by Latvian Mariss Jansons was his second appearance as conductor of the now legendary event. Jansons’s first New Year's Concert in 2006 garnered much acclaim but he was no stranger to the VPO as it was back in 1992 when Jansons first conducted them. The 2012 programme consisted of 24 scores - the perennial mix of familiar classics and unknown gems with six works receiving their New Year’s Concert première.
Originating in 1939 under the baton of Clemens Krauss more than seven decades ago and held in the stunning Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein there cannot be many music-lovers who don’t realise the exalted reputation of the annual New Year's Day Concert. Traditionally the programme is of an upbeat character consist of waltzes and polkas, with gallops, quadrilles, mazurkas and marches taken from the huge repertoire of the Strauss family and their contemporaries. The immense international popularity never seems to diminish with television broadcasts watched in over 70 countries by an audience estimated at 50 million. Some Golden Hall seats are pre-registered for the concert by Austrian families and are passed down from one generation to another. Not surprisingly concert tickets are like gold dust. In addition the phenomenal success of André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra has created a resurgence in interest in the music of the Strauss family.
The 2012 concert opened with a New Year première, the
Patriotic March a joint effort from brothers Johann Strauss II (1825-1899) and Josef Strauss (1827-1870). This sturdy and masculine score quotes material from the ever popular
Radetzky March by their father Johann Strauss I (1804-1849). The
City Hall Ball Dances that Johann Strauss II wrote to mark the occasion of the first ball held in Vienna’s new Town Hall in 1890 were gratifying. This swinging waltz combines music borrowed from Johann’s own
By the Beautiful Blue Danube and Haydn’s celebrated
Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser - at one time adopted as the national anthems of Austria and Germany. I enjoyed the attractive
Viennese Citizens waltz by Viennese composer Carl Michael Ziehrer (1843-1922) - a real audience pleasing score - and the thoroughly rousing and virtuosic
Diabolic Dance by the former leader and principal conductor of the VPO, Joseph Hellmesberger Jr. (1855-1907). Fresh to the New Year’s Concert was the
Copenhagen Steam Train Galop by the Dane Hans Christian Lumbye (1810-1874). It’s a fascinating piece, high on thrills including whistle and train effects. Two works surprisingly receiving their New Year’s Concert debuts were the melodious
Panorama and the appealing
Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s celebrated
Sleeping Beauty. Eduard Strauss (1835-1916), another son of Johann Strauss, wrote the appealing and melodious
Carmen Quadrille containing music based on themes from Bizet’s
Carmen. Other pieces that I especially enjoyed were the
Persian March for its memorable and foot-tapping melodies and the fast and furious
Thunder and Lightning polka both by Johann Strauss II. There’s also the nightmarish shenanigans of the
Delirium waltz by Joseph Strauss.
Appearing in each half of the concert the Vienna Boy’s Choir conveyed their youthful enthusiasm and style in
Tritsch-Tratsch, the fast polka by Johann Strauss II and the French polka
Fireproof from Josef Strauss.
Feuerfest saw Mariss Jansons playing the anvil with such vigour that I feared for his health; which has been a real problem for the conductor in the recent past. Given as encores to bring the concert to its traditional conclusion were the second and first most performed works in the history of the New Year Concerts. If you haven’t already guessed they were the majestic waltz
An der schönen blauen Donau by Johann Strauss II a musical postcard of Vienna and the rousing
Radetzky March by Johann Strauss I.
Throughout Jansons conducts the VPO with a real Straussian lilt and provides unfailing charm and sparkling exuberance in the marches, galops and polkas. This music could be said to run through the orchestra’s veins they know it so well. It is the player’s palpable enthusiasm that prevents the music coming across as over-familiar. I watched the splendid television broadcast live on New Year’s morning. Some people have commented in the press that there seemed to be no women in the orchestra. I could see two or three women players but the camera-work did not make this easy. The accompanying booklet contains an informative essay from Dr. Clemens Hellsberg president of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. For some unknown reason the track timings are not indicated on the release. I have provided the timings which include audience applause. Really satisfying sound quality adds to the enjoyment of these stirring and winning performances.
-- Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Vaterländischer Marschby Johann Strauss Jr. Conductor:
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1859; Vienna, Austria
Rathausball-Tänze, Op. 438by Johann Strauss Jr. Conductor:
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1890; Vienna, Austria
Radetzky March, Op. 228by Johann Strauss Sr. Conductor:
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1848; Vienna, Austria
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Enjoyable Pot PourriJune 15, 2012By j. friedman (fort Lauderdale, FL)See All My Reviews"This recording is fun, not only for the spirited performance of old war horses but also for its equally zestful attention to certain novelty numbers such as Hans Christian Lumbye's "Copenhagen Steam Railway Gallop" and Helllmesberger's "Danse Diabolique." A great pick-me-up on a gloomy day."Report Abuse
Mariss does not dissapointJanuary 16, 2012By Percy Abols (Ottawa, ON)See All My Reviews"As with his first intro on his first 2006 concert, his intro for the 2012 one is super. He does seem to know how to research for minteresting musical tidbits..... What I love best about him is his absolute exuberance in conducting and it comes across in how the orchestra responds to him. Kind of reminds me of von Karajan at the outset. Do enjoy this disk ...it refreshes ones soul...and with all the depressing economic news we do need a bit of a lift> Percy Abols"Report Abuse