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New Year's Concert Vienna 2013
see end of review for track listing
Vienna Philharmonic/Franz Welser-Möst
rec. 1 January 2013, Goldener Saal des Wiener Musikvereins, Österreich
SONY CLASSICAL 88765411632 [55:23 + 60:29] 

Once again the Vienna Philharmonic (Wiener Philharmoniker) has given its annual New Year’s Concert from the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein (Goldener Saal des Wiener Musikvereins). Steeped in musical tradition the annual event goes from strength to strength. In 2013 the New Year's Concert was broadcast on television and radio to 81 countries around the world which is double the number receiving the broadcast a decade ago. For those watching on New Year’s morning the cameraman enjoys looking at the audience for famous faces such as Julie Andrews and various European aristocracy and politicians. I enjoyed the concert conducted this year by Austrian Franz Welser-Möst who holds prestigious positions as General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera and Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra. He is no stranger to the annual New Year’s concert having been the conductor as recently as 2011.
The traditional fare of waltzes, polkas and quadrilles derives primarily from the Strauss dynasty. This year seven works by Josef Strauss were programmed to mark the attendance in the Golden Hall of his nineteen year old great-grand daughter Hedwig Aigner-Strauss as a guest of the Vienna Philharmonic. A number of other works by contemporaries of the Strauss dynasty are notably from Josef Hellmesberger II with his polka Unter vier Augen (Between the Two of Us) and Joseph Lanner’s Steyrische Tänze (Styrian Dances). As a ‘special’ another Strauss family contemporary Franz von Suppé is represented by his perennially popular Light Cavalry Overture. The programme includes eleven compositions receiving their first ever appearance at a New Year's Concert. Suitably the ‘specials’ include a short work each by Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi whose bicentennials are being commemorated this year. 

We also hear the ubiquitous encore pieces An der schönen blauen Donau (By the Beautiful Blue Danube) and the Radetzky March. Among the eleven works receiving their first performance at a New Year’s Concert I especially enjoyed the romantic and rather sentimental polka Unter vier Augen (Between the Two of Us) by Joseph Hellmesberger II and the memorably tuneful Melodien Quadrille (Melodies Quadrille) from the pen of Johann Strauss II. Light Cavalry is given a highly robust performance with the opening brass fanfare sounding quite magnificent. Briskly played with real commitment is Wagner’s Vorspiel zum Dritten Aufzug (Prelude to Act 3) from Lohengrin. Also most welcome is the vibrant playing of Verdi’s Prestissimo: Ballet Music from Act 3 of Don Carlo.This year my favourite of all is another first-timer: Johann Strauss II’s waltz Aus den Bergen (From the Mountains), such an attractive and memorable work with a splendid array of melody and moods. Although not written by a member of the Strauss dynasty I am sad that my favourite Viennese waltz Franz Lehár’s Gold and Silver was not included.
On the television screen Welser-Möst doesn’t come across as the most charismatic conductor around today. Clearly this doesn’t matter at all when listening to the CD as he certainly has a predilection for Straussian Viennese dance music. Under his charge the Vienna Philharmonic provide consistently crisp rhythms playing with vibrancy and a real spirit. It’s all quite magical at times. This is marvellous music-making that just overflows with great appeal and sheer entertainment. It’s no wonder that these concerts remain one of the world’s most difficult events to obtain tickets. One day I might be lucky! The sound quality from the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein is most satisfying with excellent clarity and balance. Each year the respective CD lacks individual timings of each work so I have taken the timings from playing the disc; applause is included. I found the booklet essay written by Prof. Dr. Clemens Hellsberg, Chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic, interesting and highly informative. For those that don’t know the news is that the Vienna Philharmonic has invited Daniel Barenboim to conduct the New Year’s Concert in 2014.  

Michael Cookson  

Track listing
Part 1
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
1. Die Soubrette, Op. 109* [2:41]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
2. Johann Strauss: Kuss-Walzer, Op. 400* [6:01]
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
3. Theater-Quadrille, Op. 213* [5:02]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
4. Aus den Bergen, Op. 292* [12:58]
Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895)
5. Light Cavalry overture [7:06]
Part 2
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
6. Spähren Klänge, Op. 235 [10:01]
7. Die Spinnerin, Op. 192* [3:43]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
8. Lohengrin - Vorspiel zum Dritten Aufzug* (1850) [3:22]
Joseph HELLMESBERGER II (1855-1907)
9. Unter vier Augen* [4:25]
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
1. Hesperusbahnen, waltz, Op. 279* [9:06]
2. Galoppin, Op. 237* [2:15]
Joseph LANNER (1801-43)
3. Steyrische Tänze, Op. 165 [7:03]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
4. Melodien Quadrille, Op. 112* [4:24]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Don Carlo (1867)
5. Don Carlo - Prestissimo: Ballettmusik Akt III* [3:17]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
6. Wo die Citronen blüh'n, Op. 364 [9:59]
Johann STRAUSS I (1804-1849)
7. Erinnerung an Ernst oder: Der Carneval in Venedig, Fantaisie Op. 126* [7:14]
Zugaben (Encores)
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
8. Plappermäulchen, Op. 245 [3:14]
9. Neujahrsgruß (New Year’s Address) [0:35]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
10. An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314 (1866) [9:43]
Johann STRAUSS I (1804-1849)
11. Radetzky March, Op. 228 (1848) [3:36]

First performance at New Year’s Concert*