New Year’s Concert 2021

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New Year’s Concert 2021
Vienna Philharmonic ǀ Riccardo Muti
Sony (2 CD) 19439840162 (1:44:0) ; DVD 19439840179
(also on Blue-ray & 3 Vinyl)

This annual event in its 82nd year was a much different occasion than normal with the concert being performed to an empty Golden Hall of the Wiener Musikverein due to Covid-19. Wielding the baton for the sixth time was the Neapolitan maestro Riccardo Muti, who when this recording was made had conducted the VPO 550 times. In honour of his 80th birthday later this year, the programme includes works that recall his native Italy.

Among the 18 tracks there are still a number of pieces being performed at the concert for the first time: Franz Von Suppé’s Fatinitza-Marsch from the operetta of the same name; Johann Strauss Jnr’s waltz Schallwellen (Sound Waves); Carl Zeller’s concert waltz Grubenlichter (Davy Lamps); Carl Millöcker’s galop In Saus und Braus (Living It Up); Karl Komzak II’s waltz Bad’ner Mad’In (Girls of Baden); Josef Strauss’s Margherita-Polka; and Johann Strauss Snr’s Venetianer-Galopp (Venetian Galop).

It has been some time since I heard Von Suppé’s Poet and Peasant Overture – my late mother-in-law’s favourite music – and it is interesting to have the Radetzky-Marsch without the traditional often-undisciplined clapping. And I always enjoy the quick polka Ohne Sorgen (Without a Care) by Josef Strauss, with its vocal contributions from the orchestra. The playing of the two great concert waltzes The Blue Danube and Emperor Waltz is among the best I have ever heard. Also noteworthy is Muti’s very relevant 3½ minute New Year’s Address. The music is accompanied by excellent programme notes.

The DVD includes bonus features of ‘Happy Birthday Burgenland! 1921-2021’ and two complete Ballet Sequences, all as seen on BBC TV.

This is one very well played and conducted album that probably needs no additional recommendation from me to buy.

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