New Year's Concert Vienna 1987

( 1 )

Overview

Most of the Herbert Von Karajan "performances" released by Sony Classical on home video are suspect as performances, because they were heavily edited, reshot, and re-recorded after the fact. They aren't much more representative of the conductor in concert than the average MTV music video is of most rock bands in concert. This release is the major exception, comprised as it is of a specific live performance on New Year's Day 1987; it was also one of the most unexpected, bracing, animated performances by Karajan ...
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Overview

Most of the Herbert Von Karajan "performances" released by Sony Classical on home video are suspect as performances, because they were heavily edited, reshot, and re-recorded after the fact. They aren't much more representative of the conductor in concert than the average MTV music video is of most rock bands in concert. This release is the major exception, comprised as it is of a specific live performance on New Year's Day 1987; it was also one of the most unexpected, bracing, animated performances by Karajan from his late career -- and one he was nearly forced to back out of because of ill health. The DVD is superior in almost every technical way possible to the video or laserdisc editions of this concert, revealing a wealth of visual material that the earlier formats only hinted at in the images of the hall and the audience and the musicians. The audio has been captured and set at a sufficiently high level to avoid the anemic sound that afflicted some early DVDs, and overall the mastering speaks volumes for the virtues of digitizing modern analog video sources, especially those with digitally recorded sound. (Speaking of which, Sony Classical may have the video rights to this concert, but those seeking just the audio portion on CD will find it in the Deutsche Grammophon catalog). The performances of music by Johann Strauss Jr., Johann Strauss Sr., and Josef Strauss are delightful, and midway through the program, the shots of the orchestra give way to equine balletic sequences -- the riders of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna in well-choreographed performances and, evoking the splendors of late 19th Century imperial Vienna or the purest classical ballet, dancers from the Ballet of the Vienna State Opera. This material is almost impossible to do badly as music, but the accompanying visuals add extraordinary sparkle, and even the extended shots of the orchestra performing do no harm to the interest level. Soprano Kathleen Battle sings on one piece, the "Fruhlingsstimmen" waltz, better known as "The Voices of Spring." The supplements on this DVD include a biographical sketch of Karajan and a history of the New Year's Eve concerts in Vienna by the Vienna Philhamonic. They aren't bad overall, except for the fact that neither mentions Karajan's association with the Nazi era in Germany -- barely indicating that he was active professionally in the years 1938-1945 -- or the concerts' origins in the Nazi era in Vienna. Yes, these New Year's Day concerts of the waltzes, polkas, and overtures of the Strauss family by the Vienna Philharmonic were started by Clemens Krauss -- they were started (unmentioned in the notes) in 1940, specifically as a way of relieving the growing hardships, dreariness, and tensions of the Second World War in Vienna which, with Austria, had been absorbed into Germany 20 months earlier; Vienna's Nazi Party members found these years especially dreary since, having helped pave the way for Germany's forcible annexation of Austria, they then found themselves generally frozen out of the top positions in the government by better-connected German Nazis and handed the scraps. The notes are correct, that the concerts proved immediately popular on radio, but that meant within the Third Reich -- it was only after the defeat of the Axis and the return of Krauss and others to performing in public at the end of the 1940s that they began building their real international audience. The fact that Vienna was an occupied city for a decade after the war didn't hurt, as the Viennese and the contending Western powers saw music as one way of reintegrating the city into the cultural life of Western Europe (along with the rebuilding of the Vienna State Opera, an event with which Krauss was also heavily involved, though he was prevented by local political forces from taking the music directorship ). Perhaps it was just too difficult to explain the origins of these concerts as Nazi morale boosters or the bizarre irony of Nazi-era Vienna finding relief from the war on the first day of the new year by immersing themselves in the music of Johann Strauss Jr. and his father. Both composers were Jewish and would certainly have been exiled or arrested had they been alive (as it was, when the Nazis took over, friends of their descendants had to forge baptismal certificates, back-dated decades and generations, to protect them). But none of this detracts even the slightest from the sheer pleasure of the music or the video, the best single DVD by Karajan or the Vienna Philharmonic on the market as of the year 2000.
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Special Features

Interactive menus; Audio: 2-channel stereo, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround; Liner notes; Biography; Languages: English, Deutsch & Français
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/8/1998
  • UPC: 074644598599
  • Original Release: 1987
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Stereo / Dolby 5.1
  • Sound: Dolby Digital, stereo
  • Language: English, Français
  • Time: 1:38:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 20,887

Scene Index

Programme
0. Programme
1. Opening [1:00]
2. Der Zigeunerbaron Overture [9:03]
3. "Sphärenkläge" Op. 235 Walzer [9:28]
4. "Annen-Polka" Op. 117 Polka francaise [4:23]
5. "Delirien-Walzter" Op. 212 [9:30]
6. Die Fledermaus Overture [8:56]
7. "Belibte Annen-Polka" Op. 137 Polka francaise [3:28]
8. "Vergnügungzug" Op. 281 Polka schnell [2:56]
9. "Pizzicato Polka" [2:56]
10. "Kaiser-Walzer" Op. 43 [11:37]
11. "Perpetuum mobile" Op. 257 Musikalischer Scherz [3:11]
12. "Unter Donner und Blitz" Op. 324 Polka schnell [3:29]
13. "Frühlingsstimmen" Op. 410 Walzer [9:09]
14. "Ohne Sorgen" Op. 271 Polka schnell [2:07]
15. "An der schönen, blauen Donau" Op. 314 Walzer [10:28]
16. "Radetzky-Marsch" Op. 228 [6:08]
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Menu

Main
   Menu Group #1 with 17 chapter(s) covering 01:37:57
Programme Notes
   English
   Deutsch
   Francais
Biography
   English
      Herbert von Karajan
   Deutsch
      Herbert von Karajan
   Francais
      Herbert von Karajan
Audio
Play Concert
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    This video is a gem.

    Herbert Von Karajan appears as guest conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra¿s 1987 New Year¿s Day concert. The concert is devoted to the music of Johann Strauss (father and son) and Josef Strauss. The Vienna Philharmonic¿s New Year¿s Day concerts have a rich tradition, and this video shows some of those traditions: a VIP audience made up of the most distinguished people in Vienna, the tens of thousands of flowers used to adorn the Great Hall of the Musikverein, and the conclusion of the concert with encores, including ¿On the Beautiful Blue Danube¿ and ¿Radetzky March.¿

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews