This televised annual concert which began in 1939 to showcase the musical traditions of the great orchestra and Austria is considered the most important classical concert in the world, seen by over 50 million people in over 70 countries.
The repertoire is taken from the family of Johann Strauss and its contemporaries.
Recently, star conductors, usually associated with Sony Classical get to conduct. A little like conductors rotating to conduct the BBC Last Night of the Proms.
Here we have Gustavo Dudamel, star of Venezuela’s El Sistema youth scheme and now conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Dudamel fits right in to the Viennese style — no Latin barrier for him. Of course, the Wiener Philharmoniker could shut their eyes and play it note and style perfect. Which they do. But that’s not to say some of the supremely musical touches aren’t the fault of the conductor.
The program is the star. Although centered around the gorgeous music of the Strauss family, it also includes music of that style.
Dudamel’s musicianship is on display from the start with an invigorating Nechledil Marschen then an uber musical Les Patineurs, all rubato and tugging hearts. Polkas such as Winterlust crackle with the whip and swirling strings foreground in the recording.
I think the Sony Classical recording engineers just press ‘play’ and record every year. Every concert sounds the same. Which is to say, superb. Beautiful balance and mix. Even applause sounds real. Check the timpani tuning between pieces. It’s pp but sounds so clear in the stunning acoustic of the world’s greatest concert hall, the Musikverein.
Those not familiar with the repertoire — snobby flute players go in with preconceived notions about the quality of the music, then get to play some of the repertoire over the years. And he quickly understands that these pieces are masterpieces of music and design and capture perfectly better than most the essence of a city and country.
Even larger works such as Franz von Suppé’s Pique Dame Overture get a look in. But no matter the piece, it’s echt Viennese charm that’s on show. And for this repertoire, you’ll never hear it bettered.
That said, Fritz Reiner’s incredible LSC RCA Strauss Waltzes with his Chicago Symphony gives these recordings a run for their money — if you can get an original pressing of this recording, grab it!
This recording was released just today. I’m listening on my lifestyle SONOS system [reviewed here] via Apple Music. Rough and ready like most Apple stuff. You’ll hear it on a CD or via Tidal HiFi when it appears [it did later that day]. And it’ll sound like kuchen und cream [it did!] Prosit.
Franz Lehár Nechledil Marsch aus der Operette Wiener Frauen
Émile Les Patineurs. Walzer, op. 183
Johann Strauss, Jr.S’ gibt nur a Kaiserstadt,s’ gibt nur a Wien. Polka, op. 291
Josef Strauss Winterlust. Polka (schnell), op. 121
Johann Strauss, Jr.Mephistos Höllenrufe. Walzer, op. 101 So ängstlich sind wir nicht! Schnell-Polka, op. 413
Franz von Suppé Ouvertüre zu Pique Dame
Carl Michael Ziehrer Hereinspaziert! Walzer aus der Operette „Der Schätzmeister“, op. 518
Otto Nicolai Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor), Moon Choir
Johann Strauss, Jr.Pepita-Polka, op. 138 Rotunde-Quadrille, op. 360 Die Extravaganten. Walzer, op. 205
Johann Strauss, sen.Indianer-Galopp. op. 111
Josef Strauss Die Nasswalderin. Polka mazur,op. 267
Johann Strauss, Jr.Auf zum Tanze! Polka schnell, op. 436 Tausend und eine Nacht. Walzer nach Motiven der Operette “Indigo”
Tik-Tak. Polka schnell, op. 365
New Year’s Concert 2017
CONDUCTOR Gustavo Dudamel
ORCHESTRA Wiener Philharmoniker
CHORUS Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien
Int release: January 9, 2017