It seems like quite a while since we've enjoyed a New Year's Concert of this calibre, certianly since the legendary shows conducted by Carlos Kleiber in 1989 and 1992. Headed by Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, that the Philharmoniker are always so at ease with, this first concert of 2020 was marked by fluent elegance, light but relentless rhythmic verve and choral music which complemented the exceptionally silky smooth quality of the Viennese strings.
Visibly at ease with this repertoire, Nelsons deployed these moments of sophistication over the course of a programme which was rather unusual, with big hits alongside less well-known scores, including Beethoven's Country Dances which kicked off an entire year dedicated to the anniversary of the composer's birthday.
Andris Nelsons all but facetiously aimed his baton towards the trumpet, his favoured instrument, to start the Postillon Galop by Hans Christian Lumbye, the Danish Johann Strauss.
On this original New Year's Concert 2020 volume published by Sony Classical on January 10, you can enjoy Knall und Fall, a delightful polka by Eduard Strauss, Cupido, a slow French polka by his brother Josef Strauss, as well as the pleasant Gavotte by Joseph Hellmesberger, Viennese delights some of which feature on the New Year's Concert's programme for the first time.
As for the pieces that the audience were enthusiastically expecting, how could you resist the magnificent rendition of the infamous Tritsch-Trasch Polka, a relentless sprint played with phenomenal virtuosity by the Vienna musicians who have proved now more than ever that they are at the top of their game.