Although the topic of war and reconciliation provides a loose subtext for certain selections in Daniel Barenboim’s 2014 Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert, you don’t need to know that in order to appreciate an unusually varied program in genre and mood. Eight of the 21 works appear on a New Year’s Concert for the first time, notably Josef Strauss’ “Palms of Peace” Waltz and two polkas: Schabernack and Neckerel, along with Joseph Hellmesberger’s zesty Polka français, Delibes’ familiar Pizzicati from the ballet Sylvia, and Richard Strauss’ haunting Moonlight Interlude from Capriccio.
A colleague of mine wrote how Barenboim downplayed the “traditional” jaunty qualities of Johann Strauss II’s Egyptischer Marsch. To myRead more ears it’s actually jauntier, brisker, and more rhythmically inflected than in Riccardo Muti’s slower, heavier 1993 New Year’s Concert rendition. Barenboim also shapes Strauss II’s Waldmeister Overture with firmly articulated bass lines and dotted rhythms that contrast to the 2007 Zubin Mehta reading’s more generalized sweep. Barenboim’s Tales from the Vienna Woods also stands out for its relaxed lilt and more distinctive than usual zither solo.
Josef Strauss’ Ohne Sorgen! polka excitingly presses forward without the least hint of derailing at such a clip (with the “ha ha ha ha” shouts dead on cue), yet Harnoncourt and Karajan pay closer heed to counterlines and inner voices. The traditional closing Blue Danube goes as well as every other New Year’s Concert version on disc, since the Vienna Philharmonic musicians can play it in their collective sleep. But the traditional encore, the Radetsky-Marsch, sounds comparatively phoned-in next to Carlos Kleiber’s brighter, more incisive 1989 and 1992 New Year’s Concert versions (Kleiber begins right on the orchestral introduction, while Barenboim prefaces it with marching drums alone, as do most other conductors). The rhythmic handclapping also overpowers rather than accompanies the orchestra. I prefer the more realistic orchestra/audience balance in Seiji Ozawa’s recording, where the conductor’s more measured gait and grounded pulse results in a soaring rather than merely boisterous climax. Still, on the whole, Barenboim’s imaginative program-building and his best music-making ultimately elevate this release beyond yet just another Vienna New Year’s Concert.
Radetzky March, Op. 228by Johann Strauss Sr. Conductor:
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1848; Vienna, Austria
Average Customer Review: ( 8 Customer Reviews )
Music at it`s bestMarch 5, 2014By Darryll Seabourne (Swansea, The Vale of Glamorgan)See All My Reviews"New years concert in Vienna I wish I was there but I was not so I ordered the cd instead, superb music from a superb orchestra what more can you ask for. Daniel Barenboim one of the best conductors in the world of classical music may you continue."Report Abuse
A very happy new yearFebruary 5, 2014By Allen F. (Spring Valley, NY)See All My Reviews"The Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Day concert has become a classic in its own time. This year's concert was a lively demonstration of what a masterful conductor can elicit from a spirited orchestra. The CD is crisp and evocative of the radio broadcast. The concert gave me pleasure on January 1, and the CD continues to give me pleasure throughout this very happy (no longer new) year."Report Abuse
Another blockbuster concertFebruary 4, 2014By Reg Jones (Hamilton, VA)See All My Reviews"Once again, Sony and Arkiv have been on the ball. After watching the broadcast on January 1, I received an e-mail offering me a 2-CD set of the concert for a rediculously low price. It arrived on the 10th, and my wife and I have been enjoying it ever since. Great music in great sound."Report Abuse