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New Year’s Day Concert 2010/01/01

Posted by Daddy Dave in Music, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tradition is a wonderful thing, and thank goodness for the BBC! I just love the annual New Year’s Day Concert broadcast to 50 million people on the morning of every New Year’s Day — and, yes I know that I say this every year, but I would love (Ah, dream on..) sometime to be there in the flesh at the renovated and florally decorated Golden Hall of the Weiner Musikverein for the annual concert.

What an amazing venue — it is a massive 48 metres longs and almost square in section, being 18 metres high by 19 metres wide — holding about 2000.  (visit www.musikverein.at). I have never been to Austria let alone Vienna, but one day…

Anyway, BBC 2 at quarter past eleven. No adverts. Just 85 minutes of what has become the proper start to the year. However, in recent times it has been difficult for me to see things through, to give things proper attention; there are bottles to be made, nappies to change, bins to be taken out, children playing and making noise, and more besides. This year, DavePaul actually switched it off in the middle by inserting a DVD of one of his favourite Scooby Doo adventures!

But I had a back-up plan — the BBC iPlayer, a set of headphones, and a beanbag! We all had to go visiting family again, in the afternoon, so it had to wait until we all got back and the kids safe and snug in bed. I’ll say it again, thank goodness for BBC!

Once again the Vienna Philharmonic delivered the goods beautifully — a wonderful celebration of waltzes, marches and polkas (most of which are by the Strauss family) .  The conductor was the 85 year old Georges Pretre, and there were performances by the Vienna State Opera and Volksoper Ballet — which really showed how gorgeous and lavish the venue is — and indeed, how well it has been restored (it looks brand new) from the marble statues and flooring to the herringbone wooden floor of the art gallery.

The presenter mentioned that the amazing flowers are an annual gift from the Italian city of San Remo — and all 30 000 blooms are there to be taken home by the audience. Marvellous stuff!

I even (probably that should read, especially) love the cheesy bits — such as the traditional interruption of the Blue Danube.  This is actually an encore, and as it starts (the first few stokes of the strings), the applause begins and the conductor calls a halt. Then all the orchestra wishes the audience a Happy New Year before restarting. It is the very same year upon year, and that is what I like about it. There is something odd in my make-up that depends on traditions like this.

I was introduced to the Blue Danube and other Strauss works by my piano teacher back when I was about 10 years old, and I remember saying I liked this music because “Although it was an orchestra, there were drums”. Good grief, what must she have thought!

Anyway, The Radetzky March got everyone clapping like mad to close on an exuberant note.  Superb start to any year… bring on 2010!


1. Tom - 2010/01/03

Did you really like it? I heard that it was a bit off this year!

2. Daddy Dave - 2010/01/13

Hi Tom, yes, I noticed a few original pacings, but I consider that to be the job of the conductor — that is what brings originality and interpretation. Look, it may or may not always be to one’s own taste, but it stirs things up, keeps old music fresh, and draws one’s attention to long forgotten motifs. Hey, everyone’s a critic! Great! I don’t think Georges could over-cheese this cheesefest, I mean, what was not to like at the end of the day.

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