The annual New Year's Day Concert
is the traditional Strauss gala with the Vienna Philharmonic marking the turn of the calendar in the spectacularly beautiful Musikverein. For the first time in 2002 the concert was conducted by Seiji Ozawa and the light-hearted nature of the event finds this always engaging conductor at his most impishly playful. The works of Joseph and Johann Strauss more-or-less alternate, opening with Johann's Zivio!
march and closing, 108 minutes later, with the traditional clap-along to the Radetzky-March
. Among the polkas and waltzes, including a ravishing encore of the Blue Danube
waltz, other highlights include the overture to Die Fledermaus
, which gets the second half of the concert off to a rousing start.
Johann's little known Perpetuum mobile controversially brings politics to the occasion, being used to mark the introduction of the Euro. Perhaps this is why it is immediately followed by a Danse Diabolique by Joseph Hellmesberger jnr, the one none-Strauss work in the programme? However, sly satire is soon forgotten as the delightful Elisen-Polka sweeps devilish thoughts away with its delightful melody. A wonderful time is had by all and while watching on TV can never recreate the atmosphere of being there it is all still hugely enjoyable.
On the DVD: The New Year's Day Concert 2002 has possibly the first classical music DVD "director's cut", as prepared by the ever dependable veteran of classical music videos, Brian Large. What this means is that the four filmed inserts which were included in the broadcast version of the concert appear here as extras, the concert playing complete without ever leaving the hall. These and the concert itself are presented in an excellent 16:9 anamorphic picture. Sound defaults to good PCM stereo but there are options for a superior Dolby Digital 5.0 mix, and a wonderfully rich and atmospheric 5.0 DTS track. There are four trailers for further TDK music DVDs, a picture gallery of Seiji Ozawa, and a tourism promotional video for Vienna with noticeably poorer picture quality than everything else on the disc.--Gary S. Dalkin