Christian Thielemann has conducted a New Year's concert with the Dresden Staatskapelle in the past, for the German television network ZDF, but this is his first time at the helm of the Vienna Philharmonic's annual Neujahrskonzert, a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. This one veritably drips with Viennese tradition; its conductorship rotates among top names worldwide, and some conductors have tried to push the envelope, albeit slightly, and usually on their second or third appearances. None of that here. There is some controversy in Germany about the degree of Thielemann's political conservatism, but there can be no debating the conservative nature of the program: this is as Strauss-heavy a program as the New Year's Concert has seen for some years. True, the program opens with Carl Michael Ziehrer's Schönfeld-Marsch, Op. 422, and Joseph Hellmesberger, Jr., one of the Waltz King's occasional competitors, is represented. Other than that, it's all Strauss, all the time. True, several members of the Strauss family are represented, and there are somewhat unusual pieces like the Egyptischer Marsch, Op. 335, of Johann Strauss II, but this was a program aimed at emphasizing favorites. Thielemann takes the waltzes and polkas on the slow side, seeming to linger, and of course the Vienna Philharmonic has this kind of reading in, well, its Wiener Blut. If you've been waiting for a good old evening of Strauss for New Year's, here's your chance.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2