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Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Vienna New Year’s Concert 2014
see end of review for track listing
Vienna Philharmonic/Daniel Barenboim
First performance at a New Year’s concert*
rec. 1 January 2014, Golden Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria
SONY 88883 792272 [58:17 + 54:13]

This Sony double CD set is the complete New Year’s Concert 2014 recorded live in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein, Vienna. This was the second time that Daniel Barenboim had conducted the Vienna Philharmonic at the New Year’s Concert; the previous time was in 2009. Like many millions of others across ninety countries of the world I took time to watch the live television transmission; such a wonderfully civilised part of New Year’s Day morning. Once again I witnessed Barenboim, musical alchemist that he is, mixing special ingredients into joyous music. Sadly, in recent decades some conductors have not had the necessary charisma to carry off this extraordinarily special event. This year the roving television camera in the Golden Hall kept a regular watch on Mrs Barenboim (Elena Bashkirova) and their son Michael Barenboim; a change of target from previous years when an equally zealous surveillance was kept on Dame Julie Andrews.
 
In the best traditions of the New Year's Concert Barenboim presided over a festive mix of the customary showpieces and the unfamiliar. This year there were nine first performances, five of which are works from the pen of Josef Strauss (1827-1870).

Since Clemens Krauss took the baton in 1939 during the blackest chapter in Austria’s history this annual series of concerts has been held in the beautifully decked out Golden Hall. As 2014 is the centenary year of the outbreak of World War I the Vienna Philharmonic felt it fitting to ask Barenboim, a well known peace activist, to take the baton once again. Marking the centenary, the orchestra and conductor chose three works that they felt were particularly fitting to reflect peace and reconciliation. These were the Caroline Gallop from Johann Strauss I (1804-1849) making its first appearance, and two works by Johann Strauss II the Egyptian March and the fast polka Stormy in Love and Dance. In admiration of Barenboim’s work as a peace campaigner the orchestra selected Josef Strauss’s waltz Palms of Peace (or Olive Branch Waltz)a work reflecting the composer’s feelings following the bloody losses at the Battle of Königgrätz between Prussia and Austria. Johann Strauss II (1825-1899), with seven works, is the member of the Strauss dynasty with the highest representation at the concert followed by Josef Strauss with four, then Johann Strauss I with two followed by Eduard Strauss (1835-1916) with the concert opener, the Helenen Quadrille. Here Barenboim, in romantic mood, pays his own charming compliment to his wife Elena by dedicating the performance to her. The Helenen Quadrille is based on themes from Offenbach’s operetta La belle Hélène.
 
Non-members of the Strauss family also represented are headed by Viennese composer Joseph Lanner (1801-1843) with his waltz The Romantics. One of the initial pioneering Viennese waltz composers, Lanner was celebrated in his day as much as Johann Strauss I. Active in Vienna life, Josef Hellmesberger II (1855-1907) held a strong connection with the Vienna Philharmonic being the orchestra’s principal conductor for three seasons. It was good having the opportunity to hear his ‘polka française’ Philippina although compared to the esteemed company it proved disappointing bland. French composer Léo Delibes (1836-1891), renowned for his ballets and operas, is represented by the well known Pizzicati from Sylvia. When writing the piece it seems that Delibes was inspired by the Pizzicato Polka, op. 234, the collaborative effort by Johann Strauss II and Josef Strauss. The year 2014 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss (1864-1949). The Vienna Philharmonic marked this by including the Moonlight Interlude that sets the stage for the final scene of the opera Capriccio.
 
Of the large number of New Year’s Concert recordings available, going back to the days of Willi Boskovsky, this 2014 recording is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable. Barenboim knows the Vienna Philharmonic intimately and this certainly shows. The music of the Strauss family runs through the orchestra’s veins like lifeblood and it’s the player’s conspicuous enthusiasm that prevents the music coming across as over-familiar. Without seemingly trying too hard Barenboim demonstrates his innate ability to conjure a near-fantasy world of unbridled joy and enchantment in old Vienna. Of the concert premieres, the stirring Caroline Gallop fizzes with effervescence. Over its short span the Bouquet Polka with its express train speed bursts with excitement and the Prank Polka is an enjoyable madcap romp. Of the inevitable and much loved encores the third most frequently played piece at the New Year’s Concerts the Pizzicato Polka, op. 234 by Johann Strauss II/Josef Strauss is absent for a second year. The two most performed encore works By the Beautiful Blue Danube,a musical postcard of Vienna just melted with charm and a glorious Viennese lilt. The stirring Radetzky March,complete with audience participation, exceed its usual magnitude of frisson.
 
The accompanying booklet contains the customary interesting and informative essay from Prof. Dr. Clemens Hellsberg, chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic. Yet again the track timings are annoyingly absent from the release but I have provided my own which include audience applause. Extremely satisfying sound quality adds to the pleasure of this joyous music-making. Under the charismatic Daniel Barenboim this Sony recording is a stunning memento of the wonderful New Year’s Concert 2014.
 
Michael Cookson  

And a second review ...

One of the musical highlights of my year is the annual New Year Concert from Vienna. I’ve watched them all since 1987, the year Karajan became the first of the invited ‘celebrity’ conductors to preside. It’s a prestigious occasion, beamed to over eighty countries world-wide and viewed by more than sixty million. Amazingly they are now in their seventy-fourth year. My two favourites were the 1989 and 1992 concerts conducted by Carlos Kleiber. I bought the DVDs and watch these two regularly, to see music-making at its very best.
 
Daniel Barenboim is here making his second appearance at this event; he was first invited in 2009. The choice of this conductor is very apt in this the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1. Among Barenboim’s many talents and qualities, his striving for peace and reconciliation, in his work, is notable.
 
The programme includes some old friends like the Egyptischer Marsch, Tales from Vienna Woods (with a lovely zither contribution), Ohne Sorgen and the staple fare of the Blue Danube and Radetzky March. Barenboim has introduced eight first performances. It is good to have the beautiful Mondscheinmusikfrom Capriccio by Richard Strauss, making its first appearance at one of these concerts. Two newcomers which I particularly enjoyed are the Schabernack-Polka, op. 98 and the Friedenspalmen waltz, op. 207 - both by Josef Strauss. This latter work is of particular relevance as ‘Friedenspalmen’ means ‘palms of peace’ and, as the booklet notes put it, ‘combines sublimated grief and the hope of peace in a particularly inspired way’.
 
It was in the 2007 New Year Concert under Zubin Mehta that the Waldmeister Ouvertüre was last aired, and it’s a delight to see its return. I can’t understand why it isn’t more well-known. No-one could fail to be dazzled by the delicate plucked strings in the Pizzicati from Sylvia by Léo Delibes, another first performance. Then there are the luscious, warm Vienna strings in Johann Strauss II’s Seid umschlungen, Millionen, topped off with some engaging rubato from Barenboim. The rhythmic vitality and sheer energy of Stürmisch in Lieb' und Tanz,showcasing the timpani section, brings a well-deserved‘bravo’ from one member of theaudience. My only quibble was the choice of Eduard Strauss’s Helenen-Quadrille to kick off proceedings. I would have liked something a little more substantial. 

What always strikes me when watching these concerts is the enjoyment on the faces of the orchestral players. It’s obviously a labour of love for them, the Vienna players having this music in their blood. I always feel they give their all as instanced by the enthusiastic and rousing vocal contributions in the Egyptischer Marsch and Ohne Sorgen. Barenboim is a source of true inspiration. I see that as well as this two-CD version there is a de-luxe edition which includes the original 86 page concert programme. In addition there is the DVD/Blu-Ray for those who like a visual document of the event.
 
Altogether an enjoyable annual concert. Long may they continue.
 
Stephen Greenbank

Track Listing
Part One
Eduard STRAUSS (1835-1916)
Helenen Quadrille, op. 14 [4:56]
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
Friedenspalmen (Palms of Peace) waltz, op. 207* [9:02]
Johann STRAUSS I (1804-1849)
Caroline Gallop, op. 21 (1827)* [2:25]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
Egyptian March, op. 335 (1892) [5:04]
Seid umschlungen, Millionen (Receive My Embrace. Ye Millions), waltz, op. 443 [10:08]
Stürmisch in Lieb' und Tanz (Stormy in Love and Dance), fast polka, op. 393 [2:16] 
Part Two
Overture to operetta Waldmeister (Woodruff) (1895) [10:22]
Klipp-Klapp (Clip-Clop) gallop, op. 466 (1896) [2:21]
G’schichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Tales from the Vienna Woods), waltz, op. 325 (1896) [11:45] 
Joseph HELLMESBERGER II (1855-1907)
Vielliebchen (Philippina), polka française, op. 1* [3:07]
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
Bouquet Polka, fast polka, op. 188 (1864) [1:48]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Mondscheinmusik (Moonlight Interlude) from Capriccio* (1942) [3:48]
Joseph LANNER (1801-43)
Die Romantiker (The Romantics), waltz, op. 167 (1840) [7:03]
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
Neckerie (Teasing), polka mazur, op. 262* [3:16]
Schabernack (Prank), fast polka, op. 98* [2:08]
Léo DELIBES (1836-1891)
Variation dansée (Pizzicati) from ballet Sylvia* (1876) [3:49]
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
Geheime Anziehungskräfte, Dynamiden, (The Secret Powers of Magnetism, Dynamides) waltz, op. 173 (1865) [10:21]
Ohne Sorgen! (Without a Care!) fast polka, op. 271 [1:49]
Encores
Carrière (Dressage Arena), fast polka, op. 200 [2:24]
Neujahrsgruß (New Year’s Address) [0:45]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
An der schönen blauen Donau (By the Beautiful Blue Danube) waltz, op. 314 (1866) [10:06]
Johann STRAUSS I (1804-1849)
Radetzky March, op. 228 (1848) [3:49]



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