I was surprised to realize that Claudio Abbado made only two appearances as conductor of the VPO New Year's Concert - the concert presented on this DVD, and an earlier appearance in 1988. I'm familiar with a number of tracks from these concerts as DG has featured them on numerous compilation CDs over the years...which had me mistakenly believing that Abbado had been more of a regular at this event.
The present concert is very enjoyable - highly nuanced, exciting, precise and dynamic, though it is wanting in the feeling of nostalgia that is writ large on the very best renditions of music by the Strauss Family. I agree with other reviewers that the inclusion of music by Rossini, Schubert and Mozart is too much and tends to knock the rationale behind this traditional concert slightly off its tracks.
The orchestra responds well to Abbado's fluid direction, which is always a joy to watch. He knows what he wants, he knows what the orchestra can do, and he gets his way. There are technical flourishes in this concert that need to be heard to be believed (the piccolo player really earns his money on this concert!).
Sound on the DVD is great. Picture isn't all that great, but that may be my perception after watching BDs for a couple of years. Standards change. I had this concert on Laserdisc back in the day. DG reissued it on DVD in 2007 - too bad that was a couple of years before BD really got going, especially in classical music, where even today the majority of video releases are limited to release on DVD, rather than the much-superior BD format. The DVD was certainly worth the $9.99 I spent through amazon marketplace seller ArchivMusic, who delivered the sealed product within 3 days of ordering.
Recommended, especially for fans of Abbado and NYD concert completists.