Wednesday, 27 December 2017

CD Review (The Straits Times, December 2017)

Vienna Philharmonic / Gustavo Dudamel
Sony Classical 88985376152 (2 CDs) 

It is amazing to ponder the fact that the New Year's Day Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra continues to bring up new works never previously performed at this landmark institution. 

Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel's first appearance unfortunately did not present some Latino pops classics, but no less than eight “premieres” were heard, including favourites like Emile Waldteufel's Skaters Waltz (Les Patineurs) and Franz von Suppe's Pique Dame Overture. The concert opened with Franz Lehar's Nechledil March, ever bit as rousing and clappable as Johann Strauss the Elder's Radetzky March that closed the event.

In between, there were first performances of Johann Strauss the Younger's Rotunde-Quadrille, Die Extravaganten and fast polkas Auf Zum Tanze! (Let's Dance!) and Pepita Polka, all sparkling like bubbly champagne. The Wiener Singverein chorus also made its debut, singing in the Moon Chorus from The Merry Wives Of Windsor by the orchestra's founder Otto Nicolai. 

Not to be outdone, the orchestral players themselves have their voices heard in Strauss' Tik-Tak Polka (not to be confused with the better-known Tritsch-Tratsch Polka) besides their customary shouted new year's greeting. The Beautiful Blue Danube gets its due, as always, and what would the Vienna New Year's Concert be without it?  

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