The VPO new year's concert

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John F
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The VPO new year's concert

Post by John F » Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:29 am

WNET broadcast the 2016 new year's concert yesterday afternoon. The first transmission was botched - the first 12 minutes passed in silence so we couldn't hear the first selection and part of the second. Also, the Radetzky March at the end was faded down for a WNET voice-over selling the CD. A rerun yesterday evening at least restored the missing sound, though the voice-over remained. This is no way to broadcast a classical music concert.

As I expected, this year's edition wasn't one of the best. Mariss Jansons, who doesn't look at all well (he's only 72 but has a heart condition), didn't appear to be enjoying it much of the time, he sometimes slowed the music to a crawl where a less extreme rubato would do, and the orchestra's sound was thick and coarse in the tutti. But the gimmick numbers such as the Seufzer polka were entertaining, Josef Strauss's Dragonfly Waltz was as enchanting as ever despite a dragging tempo from Jansons, and the Kaiserwalzer might be the greatest waltz of them all.

The Philharmonic's slow-motion addition of women continues. Naturally all their women are on show for international television, as a matter of public relations, and I was startled to see a woman in the associate concertmaster chair, and another playing first bassoon - they're no longer merely at the back desks of the string sections. What effect if any this has had on their sound, for better or worse, will have to wait until I hear them in person under a different conductor. But at least the orchestra is no longer depriving itself of the musical talents of half the human race. The Vienna Choir Boys are about half orientals, it looked to me, and one of them is actually Black. Is Vienna finally entering the 20th century as we move on in the 21st? Could be.

Unsatisfied with what I heard from Vienna, I looked on YouTube for some more rewarding Strauss, and found Bruno Walter's LP with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra. Just goes to show, it's the conductor not the orchestra that really counts. If you want to hear a conductor declaring his love for the music, listen to Walter's Kaiserwalzer, especially the coda - he doesn't just conduct it, he caresses it, or he gets his players to. Wonderful.

John Francis

jbuck919
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Re: The VPO new year's concert

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:43 am

The Silver Burdett books used for elementary school instruction were and maybe still are an amalgam of various songs more or less arbitrarily put together on the basis of considerations of copyright and royalties. For instance, it seems that Meredith Wilson donated the reproduction rights to numbers from The Music Man, because that's where I first learned them by heart, even though I saw the movie on original release. You wouldn't believe the miscellany that still runs around in my head from those days. Anyone care to join me in a rousing rendition of "You're a Grand Old Flag"?

Anyway, one of the numbers was a medley of Strauss waltzes set to words. It had the perverse effect of causing me to be confused to this day about which tune is which famous waltz. The only one I'm always sure of is the Blue Danube, because it was not in the medley.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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