Amazon is a completely open forum, so, providing a rule against obscenity or something is not contravened, any half-wit, including me, can post an opinion - and boy does that sometimes become obvious. One here tells us that Karajan's conducting is old, tired and without energy and another that we should skip Kathleen Battle's contribution as she has a nasty voice and no idea of Viennese style. It's still a free country (more or less) but never have such people made a better case for censorship - except that it's probably more effective to let their inanities stand as self-condemning. I’d love to apply the blind-listening test to the former to demonstrate a water-tight exemplar of someone hearing what they intended to - the other one simply needs a hearing aid.
Anyway, to business; it is touching how that complicated and immensely gifted old ego-maniac von Karajan finally got the offer to guest-conduct a Viennese New Year's Eve concert when he was ill and ailing and always in pain from his back injury - yet you would hardly guess that from the lilt, lift and spring of these performances of a medley of the Strauss family's loveliest melodies. Boundless energy and aggression are hardly required in such music; rather wit, charm and delight are in order. Karajan and the VPO are clearly enjoying themselves. Just before listening to this, I played another famous New Year's Eve concert recording from Berlin in 1992 with Abbado at the helm of the BPO; that is also a glorious affair but rather more serious than this one, being dedicated to the works of the other Strauss. This recording is all smiles. Pace the previous malcontent, it is hard to imagine a prettier, more beguiling lyric-coloratura soprano than Battle's and how she is inappropriate stylistically beats me; for eight minutes she trills, skims, swoops and soars as if she hadn't a care in the world, always dead on the note and scarcely an aspirate within earshot (well, almost nary a one..).
The centrepiece of any such concert must be the "Blue Danube" and it is gloriously played here, with the requisite Schmaltz and affection. The audience participation in the Radetzky March is unusually scrappy but it matters not; this is sheer fun.