Lorin Maazel's New Year's Day Concert 2005 from Vienna is a curate's egg. There are some attractive rarities, well recorded and . . . for almost two hours of music, this two-CD set is good value.
Record Review /
Mail on Sunday / 13. February 2005
Maazel's famously precise baton sharpens natural Viennese expressiveness in these athletic performances. Rarities abound, old favourites smile as freshly as ever. Lively sound, and cracking entertainment.
Record Review /
BBC Music Magazine (London) / 01. April 2005
Die Körpersprache eines Dirigenten prägt den Klang eines Orchesters ganz wesentlich -- nicht zuletzt das ist an dem soeben auf CD erschienenen Mitschnitt des diesjährigen Neujahrskonzerts im Goldenen Saal des Wiener Musikvereins zu erleben. Lorin Maazel pflegt eine federnd elegante Zeichengebung, die den Musikern gibt, was sie benötigen. Und so klingen die Wiener Philharmoniker nicht nur präzis, sondern leicht und samten -- auch in den Märschen und bis in die Einwürfe der Posaunen . . . so wunderschön wie selten . . .
Record Review /
Neue Zürcher Zeitung / 12. January 2005
Man mag monieren, daß bei Maazel der "wienerische" Anteil zugunsten eines mehr weltstädtischen zurückgedrängt sei. Was man ihm nicht absprechen kann, ist, daß er dem Tiefgang dieser Musik zu seinem Recht verholfen hat. Darüber hinaus gibt es auch bei Maazels elftem Neujahrskonzert besondere Noten: die eines Dirigenten an der ersten Zupfgeige bei der "Pizzicato-Polka" und . . . der Maestro als konzertierender Primus in der Einleitung zu den "Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald".
Record Review /
Bühne (Wien) / 01. February 2005
Alle Jahre wieder, seit 1939, gibt's das Neujahrskonzert der Wiener im "Goldenen Saal" des Musikvereins. Eins der weltbesten Orchester in einem der besten Konzertsäle: Das klingt auch auf CD prächtig, präsent, räumlich -- satter Orchesterklang, vokale Finessen. Qualität hat hier Tradition, wie auch diese Ausgabe zeigt. Maazel dirigiert Walzer und Polkas mit Schwung (aber behutsam) und überraschender Liebe zum Detail. Ein hervorragender Jahrgang!
Record Review /
Audio (Stuttgart) / 01. March 2005
Auf die Wiener Philharmoniker war natürlich auch bei der jüngsten Neuauflage im stimmungsvoll aufgeputzten Wiener Musikvereinssaal Verlass, zumal Altmeister Lorin Maazel als Pultperfektionist nichts dem Zufall überließ.
Record Review /
Badische Neueste Nachrichten / 03. April 2005
En lo musical, Maazel volvió a demostrar que es un consumado maestro en este repertorio, con esas once ediciones del Concierto de Año Nuevo a sus espaldas y la absoluta complicidad de una Filarmónica de Viena que siempre interpreta esta música en estado de gracia.
Record Review /
Javier Pérez Senz,
CD Compact (Barcelona) / 01. March 2005
¿El resultado? Un prodigio, como siempre. Maazel es hoy el director ideal para tal evento. Basta con oír sus diabluras en los rubatos y los cambios de tempo de los Cuentos . . . en los que la orquesta parece seguirle como un solo hombre. A destacar también las Imágenes del Mar del Norte, una obra infrecuente que es un auténtico regalo.
Record Review /
Luis Enrique de Juan Vidales,
Ritmo (Madrid) / 01. April 2005
2005 New Years Concert
Deutsche Grammophon is pleased to announce the extension of its exclusive agreement for the CD releases of the New Year's Concerts of the Wiener Philharmoniker up to and including the 2008 concert.
The agreement is part of a new long-term collaboration that continues a historic relationship between the Wiener Philharmoniker and Deutsche Grammophon dating back to the orchestra's very first recording sessions in 1924, when DG/Polydor recording engineers travelled from Berlin to Vienna to produce a series of shellac discs of the music of the Strauss family and Joseph Lanner under the baton of Josef Klein.
Deutsche Grammophon first released a recording of the New Year's Concert - the institution that encapsulates the very best of Viennese music-making - in 1980, directed by Lorin Maazel, and over the last 25 years DG has featured in its catalogue further concerts directed by conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Herbert von Karajan, Carlos Kleiber, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, and Riccardo Muti.
To mark the silver jubilee anniversary of Lorin Maazel's first New Year's Concert the Wiener Philharmoniker have invited the Maestro to direct the 2005 festivities. Following time-honoured custom, this concert will feature favourites and rarities by the Strauss family and their contemporaries. As with the orchestra's legendary leader Willi Boskovsky (1955-1979), who could pick up his violin and play along with the orchestra as both Johann Strausses themselves did, also Maestro Maazel is an internationally acclaimed violinist whose solo contributions were a highlight of his previous New Year's Concerts, the last one in 1999. Maazel celebrates his 75th birthday in March 2005, an event that Deutsche Grammophon will mark with the reissue of a near-complete survey of his early recordings for the label, released as an 8-CD set in the lauded Original Masters series.
International release of the 2005 New Year's Concert CD is scheduled for 7 January, merely one week after the recording, closely followed by the SACD on 11 January and the DVD on 17 January. The DVD offers a special director's cut of the event by Brian Large, including ballet scenes recorded in the Palais Coburg, Vienna on 2 December 2004, featuring Polina Semionova of the Berlin State Opera Ballet, who won gold medals at two Moscow Ballet Competitions and is a rising star in the world of classical ballet. For one piece she will be joined by BSO Ballet Director Vladimir Malakov, who is choreographing these scenes.
The New Year's Concert from the Musikvereinssaal, Vienna is the largest live musical event annually televised worldwide. Recordings of it invariably are featured in the classical and pop bestseller lists.
Bogdan Roic, Vice-President of A & R, Deutsche Grammophon, says: "The 2005 New Year's Concert starts off a year that will bring several fascinating DG projects with the Wiener Philharmoniker. I'm especially looking forward to the next Mahler recording with Pierre Boulez following their stunning Mahler 3 and Mahler song-cycle releases, as well as to a concerto recording with Maurizio Pollini."
Christopher Roberts, President Universal Classics & Jazz International, adds: "After our fruitful and rewarding collaboration in the past, I am delighted that we can now extend our agreement with the Wiener Philharmoniker for a further three years. We look forward to documenting these concerts and making other outstanding recordings together."
Thoughts on the 2005 New Year's Concert of the Wiener Philharmoniker
The 2005 New Year's Concert of the Wiener Philharmoniker marked two anniversaries, both of them associated with one of the orchestra's honorary members, the conductor Lorin Maazel. Not only did it commemorate the silver jubilee of Maazel's first New Year's Concert on 1January 1980, it was also the orchestra's way of marking his 75th birthday on 6 March 2005.
In 1954, following the death of Clemens Krauss, the Philharmonic's New Year's concerts were entrusted to the orchestra's legendary leader, Willi Boskovsky. Boskovsky conducted the concerts from 1955 to 1979, when ill health forced him to step down. For the 1980 concert, the orchestra decided to invite Lorin Maazel to step into the breach. Maazel was then director designate of the Vienna State Opera, and his appointment heralded a new chapter in the history of the world famous New Year's Concerts, which he conducted every year from 1980 to 1987, again in 1994 and 1996, and in the "Strauss year" 1999, which marked both the 150th anniversary of the death of Johann Strauss the Father and the centenary of the death of Johann Strauss the Son. Like Willi Boskovsky, Lorin Maazel conducted from the violin and in doing so picked up an important tradition established by the elder Johann Strauss and perpetuated by his son. At the 2005 New Year's Concert, too, Lorin Maazel not only conducted the whole programme but also played the violin in Johann Strauss's Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Tales from the Vienna Woods).
Throughout his ten concerts, Lorin Maazel has been sought to do justice to the whole of the Strauss family's varied output: of the 165 items that he has conducted in the course of these programmes, 156 have been devoted to Johann Strauss the Father and his three sons, Johann, Josef and Eduard. This figure includes no fewer than 115 different works. (The variety of the repertory becomes even clearer when we take account of the fact that these 165 items include ten encores of The Blue Danube waltz and ten of the Radetzky March, the two works that traditionally bring these concerts to their ritual conclusion.) Six other composers have featured in these programmes: Joseph Lanner, Franz von Suppé and Carl Michael Ziehrer, each with two works apiece, and individual numbers by Hector Berlioz, Jacques Offenbach and the founder of the Wiener Philharmoniker, Otto Nicolai, who was represented by his masterpiece, the overture to his opera Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor.
Although Lorin Maazel has conducted all the popular hits of the Strauss family at his previous ten concerts, making repeats inevitable, his eleventh concert none the less features ten works that he has not conducted on any of his earlier occasions. Of these, no fewer than five have never previously been heard at all at a New Year's Concert. Indeed, the very first item on the 2005 programme is a novelty. Johann Strauss wrote his first operetta, Indigo und die vierzig Räuber, only after lengthy hesitation, but after that he soon developed a strategy for ensuring that his stage works were also familiar in the concert hall, reusing their most successful vocal melodies in independent instrumental pieces such as waltzes and polkas. In this way the rich vein of tunes contained in his first operetta was tapped for no fewer than nine new works, three of which were performed at the 2005 New Year's Concert. The waltz Tausend und eine Nacht (A Thousand and One Nights) had already been performed four times at a New Year's concert, the fast polka Die Bajadere (The Bayadère) at least once, but the Indigo March had never been heard within this context - a surprising state of affairs as it is one of the "Waltz King"'s most brilliant and at the same time most elegant marches.
The polka Haute Volée (High Society) is another work not previously heard at the New Year's Concerts of the Wiener Philharmoniker. It deals with what was once an awkward social question but does so with the incomparable charm that was unique to the Strauss family. As early as 1842 Johann Strauss the Father had written a Haute Volée Quadrille designed to flatter his audience into thinking that they belonged to the cream of Viennese society. In composing it, he relativized the hierarchies that were meticulously observed in the imperial capital. Twelve years later his son repeated the compliment, a compliment that both audiences and press accepted with due approval.
Josef Strauss died in 1870 at the age of barely forty three. According to his brother Johann, he was the most gifted of the three brothers - the "Waltz King" described himself as merely the more popular of the two. The Wiener Philharmoniker have always sought to do justice to his importance as a composer, but although his works have been heard at every New Year's Concert with the exception of the ones in 1975 and 1999, only a sixth of his 300 or so works have been performed on these occasions. At the 2005 New Year's Concert, Josef was represented by two pieces previously unperformed at a New Year's Concert, the waltz Lustschwärmer (Pleasure Seekers) and the fast polka Winterlust (Winter Pleasure), which was first heard on 3 March 1862 at a benefit ball for the Strauss brothers.
In 1997 the President of the Vienna Johann Strauss Society, Franz Mailer, who for decades had helped to plan the New Year's Concerts, took the interesting if potentially risky step of enlarging the circle of composers showcased on these occasions and programmed a piece by Joseph Hellmesberger (1855-1907), a former leader and conductor of the Wiener Philharmoniker who was also chairman of its board of directors and a popular composer of operettas, waltzes and so on. His fast polka Leichtfüßig (Light-Footed) was as successful on that occasion as his galop Kleiner Anzeiger (Little Advertiser) and his spectacular Danse diabolique proved to be when they were performed at the 1998 and 2002 New Year's Concerts. It was inevitable, therefore, that the 150th anniversary of this versatile Viennese musician's birth should be marked by the performance of a further novelty, the French polka Auf Wiener Art (In the Viennese Manner).
Franz von Suppé appeared on a New Year's Concert programme of the Wiener Philharmonikerfor the eighth time in 2005. Lorin Maazel had already conducted the overture to his operetta Die schöne Galathée (Beautiful Galatea) in 1986. The second half of the 2005 New Year's Concert was devoted almost entirely to the younger Johann Strauss, with popular pieces alternating with others less frequently performed. Among the old favourites were the waltz Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Tales from the Vienna Woods), the fast polka Vergnügungszug (Pleasure Train) and the Pizzicato Polka that Johann wrote jointly with his brother Josef and that has received twenty-six performances at the New Year's Concerts, making it the third most frequently played work after The Blue Danube and the Radetzky March. The less commonly performed works are all musical gems and include the atmospheric portraits of the Nordseebilder (Pictures of the North Sea), the unique colours of the Russische Marschphantasie (Russian March Fantasy), the merry Klipp-Klapp (Clip-Clop) galop from the operetta Waldmeister, the elegiac Fata Morgana and the Bauernpolka (Peasants' Polka) that was written in St Petersburg and in which the musicians are instructed by the composer to sing as well as play.
The last four items in the 2005 New Year's Concert programme come from three members of the Strauss family: the fast polka Electrisch (Electric) by Eduard Strauss brings to an end the official part of the programme and provides a musical introduction to the international "Year of Physics" that began on 1 January 2005 and that is meant to honour the famous physicist Albert Einstein. The year 2005 not only marks the fiftieth anniversary of Einstein's death, it is also the centenary of the annus miraculus, the miraculous year in which he first presented his special theory of relativity and in doing so proposed a fundamental reevaluation of the traditional physical concepts of time and space, speed and simultaneity.