Andris Nelsons / Wiener Philharmoniker

New Year's Concert 2020 / Neujahrskonzert 2020

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The Vienna Philharmonic's 2020 New Year's Concert, recorded live and released to the world before the end of January, was the first with conductor Andris Nelsons at the helm, although he often conducts the orchestra on other occasions. His program, although it contains quite a few pieces new to the annual tradition-fest, has a quiet, retrospective air. There's an unusually high number of pieces by the Strauss family, perhaps because of some key anniversaries coming up, and Nelsons looks back to older dance forms, with a set of Contradances by Beethoven and the Gavotte by Josef Hellmesberger II that closes out the first CD of the double-album set. Those who want to know what keeps the Vienna Philharmonic at the top of the orchestral heap, can listen to this Gavotte, feathery and almost unthinkably delicate. Nelsons turns the speed and volume up only on a few tracks as the program approaches its end, and in the encores, he has a small surprise: a new version of the concluding Radetzky March of Johann Strauss I, toning the work's militarism down a bit. It fits in very nicely with the rest of the program and with Nelsons' overall mood here, and one looks forward to return New Year's visits from this conductor.

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