DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

New Year’s Concert 2012, Blu-ray (2012)

Sumptuous videography and excellent lossless 5.1 surround make this New Year's musical experience a winner.

Published on October 17, 2012

New Year’s Concert 2012, Blu-ray (2012)

Performers: Vienna Philharmonic/Maris Jansons/ The Vienna Boys’ Choir
Live recording from the Musikverein [TrackList follows]
Director: Karina Fibich
Studio: Sony Classical (2 discs)Video: 1080i HD 16:9
Region code: worldwide
Audio: PCM 24-bit stereo; DTS-HD MA 24-bit 5.1 (concert and ballet sequences)
Subtitles: English
Extras: 3 waltzes with filmed ballets; 9 short classical music family-directed fantasies
Length: 2:45:03
Rating: ****(*)

More than a half century after WWII, the Vienna Philharmonic is finally starting to recapture the innocent glee of Vienna’s decadent Austro-Hungarian life in which they were born. The tempos are brisk and graceful, with plenty of lilt at the right moment and lots of sudden explosions intended to make couples suddenly reach for each other in delighted fright. And the playing is so distinctively colorful, rustic or sophisticated as each piece requires, that it’s no wonder Brahms admired the sound palette that the Strauss family and their many industrious colleagues worked with; built on the high romantic, storybook glamor of Weber with an entirely new vocabulary of dance steps that had seen high times in Paris where the women often slipped off their gowns.

As with all these New Year’s Concerts, there are both discoveries and fondly remembered chestnuts including (in the former category) Ziehrer’s enchanting, addictive “Viennese Citizens Waltzes,” Hellmesberger’s intoxicating “Diabolic Dance” and Lumbye’s infectious “Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop.”  Among the latter is a wonderfully life-enhancing “Delirien,” a personal favorite of mine.

The production couldn’t be more perfectly matched to the strengths and characteristics of the music. Director Karina Fibich seems to have been allowed complete freedom in turning her camera wherever her curiosity took her; she lingers lovingly on the trumpeter and catches the glint off his golden horn, she catches the flute and piccolo just when they are being most inimitable, and not one section of the Vienna Phil band is ignored. Preceding the concert, there are introductory sweeps through the magnificent foyer into the hall itself; as with the music, the expert performances and Maestro Jansons’ exceedingly good nature on the podium, Fibich’s sumptuous vibrant visuals enhance the whole experience to the point that you begin to follow the music more closely in order to see who and what exactly are making such delicious sounds.


Johann and Joseph Strauss: “Vaterländischer Marsch (Fatherland March)”
Johann Strauss: “Rathausball-Tänze (City Hall Ball Dances)”, Waltz, op. 438
Johann Strauss: “Entweder – oder! (Either – Or!)”, Fast Polka, op. 403
Johann Strauss: “Tritsch-Tratsch (Chit-Chat)”, Polka, op. 214
Carl Michael Ziehrer: “Wiener Bürger (Viennese Folk)”, Waltz, op. 419
Johann Strauss: “Albion Polka”, op. 102
Joseph Strauss: “Jokey Polka (Jockey Polka)”, Fast Polka, op. 278

– Intermission –

Joseph Hellmesberger, Jr.: Danse Diabolique (Diabolic Dance)
Joseph Strauss: “Künstler-Gruss (Artists Greeting)”, Polka française, op. 274
Johann Strauss: “Freuet euch des Lebens (Enjoy Life)”, Waltz, op. 340
Johann Strauss, Sr.: “Sperl Galopp”, op. 42
Hans Christian Lumbye: Copenhagen Railway Steam Gallop
Joseph Strauss: “Feuerfest (Fireproof)”, Polka française, op. 269
Eduard Strauss: “Carmen-Quadrille”, op. 134
Peter I. Tchaikovsky: “Panorama” from the Ballet “Sleeping Beauty”, op. 66
Peter I. Tchaikovsky: “Waltz” from the Ballet “Sleeping Beauty”, op. 66
Johann and Joseph Strauss: “Pizzicato Polka”, no opus number
Johann Strauss: “Persischer Marsch (Persian March)”, op. 289
Joseph Strauss: “Brennende Liebe (Burning Love)”, Polka Mazur, op. 129
Joseph Strauss: “Delirien (Delirium)”, Waltz, op. 212
Johann Strauss: “Unter Donner und Blitz (Thunder and Lightning)”, Fast Polka, op. 324

—Laurence Vittes



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