(New Year's Concert 2001)
This review is sponsored by
Details At A Glance
Featurette - The Ballets (11:34)
Notes - A History Of The New Year's Concert
Notes - The Musikverein
Notes - DVD-Audio catalogue
Notes - Credits
(not 120 minutes as stated on packaging)
Cast & Crew
Warner Vision Australia
||The Strauss Family
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame
||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded
||Audio (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
Audio (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio
|Original Aspect Ratio
||Annoying Product Placement
|Action In or After Credits
||Yes, during credits
On the first perfect digital day of the third millennium
(010101), the crowds flocked into the magnificent Musikverein
in Vienna, Austria to partake of that great tradition, The New Year's Concert.
I suppose there is something quite intrinsically wonderful about that.
The dawn of the third millennium and people are still wandering into magnificent
buildings from a much earlier age to listen to superb music created by
and for a much different age - thereby continuing a tradition that has
so far lived through sixty years. The concert this year was under the direction
of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, a name that I would not readily associate
with the music of the Strauss family. These concerts, though, have
often produced some wonders, perhaps none more so than the magnificent
concert of 1987 under the baton of Herbert
von Karajan - generally regarded to be the best of the annual concerts.
And so it is that a conductor whom I would not recognize as a Strauss
conductor manages to produce a rather enjoyable concert. Perhaps not quite
in the league as those under the magnificent Willy Boskovsky and
the aforementioned Herbert
von Karajan effort, but certainly not far short of them.
Since 2001 is the bicentenary of the birth of the
great Austrian composer of light music, Joseph Lanner, his works
get a bit of a run here along with those of the Strauss Family. The pieces
on offer here comprise:
The programme pretty much mixes up some old chestnuts
- there would probably be a riot in Vienna if the Radetzky-Marsch
was not played - with some slightly less well-known works from the prolific
Strauss Family and from the almost forgotten Joseph Lanner. Mind
you, the reason why they can keep trotting out these old chestnuts is for
the very simple reason that they are great music that never ages. Once
again the Wiener Philharmoniker is well up to the task of this music,
so there is nothing to hinder the enjoyment here at all.
Radetzky-Marsch Op228, Johann Strauss I (original
Die Schonbrunner, Walzer Op200, Joseph Lanner
Jagers Lust, Jagd-Galopp Op82, Joseph Lanner
Morgenblatter, Walzer Op279, Johann Strauss II
Electro-magnetische Polka Op110, Johann Strauss II
Electrofor-Polka schnell Op297, Johann Strauss II
Overture: Eine Nacht in Venedig, Johann Strauss II
Harlekin-Polka Op48, Josef Strauss
Dorfschwalben aus Osterreich, Walzer Op164, Josef Strauss
Steyrische Tanze Op165, Joseph Lanner
Vergnugungszug, Polka schnell Op281, Johann Strauss II
Seid umschlungen, Millionen, Walzer Op443, Johann Strauss
Der Kobuld, Polka Mazur Op226, Johann Strauss II
Luzifer-Polka Op226, Johann Strauss II
Ohne Sorgen, Polka schnell Op271, Josef Strauss
An der schonen blauen Donau, Walzer Op314, Johann Strauss
Radetzky-Marsch Op228, Johann Strauss I
Some traditions keep going because people have not
got the good sense and taste to let them die. The New Year's Concert tradition
keeps going because I cannot imagine a better way to start a New Year:
great music, great venue. One day I would love to be able to afford the
reputedly exhorbitant amount of money that it apparently requires to purloin
a ticket for this gig. Until then, I guess I shall just have to hope that
we keep getting fine quality recordings like these of the event to enjoy
all year round.
Well this is going to be short and sweet indeed: damn
good in all respects! Since that is perhaps too brief for the purposes
of objective review, I shall expand on that superlative a little.
This would appear to have been a high definition
recording for broadcast around the world and therefore is in the increasingly
more common aspect ratio for television broadcasts of 1.78:1. It is of
course 16x9 enhanced. For those with a Pan and Scan bent however, the transfer
does come with Auto Pan and Scan encoding so you can enjoy a truncated
version of the transfer.
This is a wonderfully sharp and gorgeously detailed
transfer with nary a whisper of any drop in quality at all throughout the
transfer. Shadow detail is excellent and clarity is pretty much like fine
crystal. There is no issue with grain in the transfer. There are no low
level noise issues in the transfer.
The colours are beautifully rendered, wonderfully
vibrant with some lovely strength to the tonal depth. The highlight in
most respects is the wonderfully different tones of the musicians supposedly
black jackets: there are just these terrific little variances in the blacks
highlighting the fact that no two musicians' jackets are alike. This really
is great stuff. There is no problem with oversaturation at all - the slight
undersaturation at times here is intended and there is no colour bleed
in the transfer.
There are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Apart
from the seemingly usual problem of aliasing in classical music DVDs, in
the usual culprits of strings and bows, there are no film-to-video artefacts
in the transfer. It is only this relatively minor, but consistent, aliasing
that denies this transfer reference status in my view. There are no film
artefacts in the transfer.
This is an RSDL
formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 57:16.
This is just before the start of a piece of music and just after the audience
has fallen silent, so it is almost perfectly placed and is virtually unnoticeable
and certainly not at all disruptive to the programme.
Video Ratings Summary
There are two soundtracks on the DVD, a Dolby Digital
5.1 soundtrack and a Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack. Whilst these are
flagged as English soundtracks, they are of course more correctly Audio
soundtracks since there is no actual language involved here. A little surprisingly,
the Linear PCM soundtrack is the default. I listened to both soundtracks.
Whichever way you choose to listen to this programme,
the sound should not disappoint at all.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is very good in
general, carrying some of the softer and more top end sounds very well
indeed. The only real issue I have is that in common with many classical
music DVDs, the bass has been mixed a little too prevalently in the mix
and comes over in a slightly unnatural way. However, it has to be admitted
that this only occurs with the kettle drums and since they make only occasional
forays into the music, this is not an unduly terrible problem. The sound
does just come over in a very slightly artificial manner, sounding just
a little compressed and not really open and vibrant. Rear surround channel
use is reasonably restricted, mainly carrying audience applause and some
nice echo effects from the sound bouncing off the hall walls. It actually
sounds quite realistic in that regard. The front surround channels get
a decent workout, presenting a nicely natural soundscape in general.
The Linear PCM soundtrack though is an entirely different
beast and this is a gorgeously open and vibrant sounding effort that really
carries the music superbly. It may lack the surround channel and bass channel
use but the resultant sound really has tons of presence. This is my preferred
way to listening to this music. Terrific stuff.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use
Actually, something is included here which makes a bit
of a difference - even though it does not really amount to all that much.
Nothing special overall.
Presented in three languages (German, French and English),
this provides a nicely detailed albeit short history of the concerts. Could
have perhaps been a little longer, but worthwhile reading in any case.
Featurette - The Ballets (11:34)
More of an adjunct to the main programme rather than
an extra per se, those familiar with these concerts will know that the
television recordings often include some dance sequences to accompany the
music. These are they for 2001. Rather than presenting them as they probably
were on television, as part of the main programme, they are included as
distinctly separate items (only accessible via the menu) so that they do
not disrupt the integrity of the main programme: a much appreciated gesture
by Teldec I might add, as I know some do not appreciate these dance highlights.
They are presented in exactly the same format as the main programme and
their length is what accounts for the difference in the running time listed
in the specification above and the running time shown on the DVD's packaging.
Notes - A History Of The New Year's Day Concert
Whilst slightly duplicating the booklet, the five pages
do include some photographs of some of the conductors. The actual notes
themselves are quite brief.
Notes - The Musikverein
Rather brief notes to accompany nine photographs of
various aspects of this magnificent building.
Notes - DVD-Audio catalogue
Rather blatant advertising for the initial batch of
DVD-Audio titles in the Warner Music catalogue. Of interest though as it
should be noted that these are to be distributed by Warner Vision Australia
and will apparently have DVD-Video compatible soundtracks included too.
Notes - Credits
As far as we have been able to ascertain, there are
no censorship issues with this title.
R4 vs R1
Since this is coded for world-wide use, it would seem
that it will be identical to the Region 1 release - other than PAL formatting
- once it gets a release in Region 1. Region 4 wins accordingly.
Neujahrskonzert 2001 is an excellent programme
on a generally excellent DVD. If you like the music of the Strauss Family,
then there is every reason for you to be beating a hasty path to your local
retailer for this title. If this is generally indicative of the sort of
quality of Teldec Classics DVD-Videos, then I am all in favour of seeing
a few more! Makes me almost want to go out and buy a DVD-Audio player to
sample those items too.
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
11th March, 2001.
||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD
version of Video Essentials.
||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version
of Video Essentials.
||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears
EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL