Neujahrskonzert 2003-Vienna Philharmonic/Nikolaus Harnoncourt (2003)

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Released 10-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Classical Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Impressionen von der schönen blauen Donau und Wien (9:47)
Featurette-Bilder vom Schloss Hellbrunn mit den Wasserspielen (3:32)
Featurette-Solisten des Balletts der Wiener Staatsoper (2:01)
Featurette-Chinesische Räume im Schloss Schönbrunn (1:44)
Featurette-St. Petersburger Kirov Ballett (9:18)
Trailer-Neujahrskonzert 2002 (2:23)
Notes-About 5.0 Audio
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 114:57 (Case: 122)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Brian Large
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Wiener Philharmoniker
Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Johann Strauss
Johannes Brahms
Carl Maria von Weber

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Audio Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Audio Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
Audio dts 5.0 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    After a break of one year, whilst the profoundly underwhelming Seiji Ozawa took over for 2002, Nikolaus Harnoncourt returns to lead the 2003 incarnation of one of the great musical traditions of the world - The New Year's Concert from the magnificent Musikverein in Vienna , Austria. After the rather excellent offering from 2001, the 2003 concert had something to live up to. So how does it rate? Not too shabby at all is the short answer as far as the concert itself goes. Mind you, those persons who had managed to mortgage their house to get a ticket to the event probably had apoplexy when they saw the pieces to be played. Johannes Brahms at the New Year's Concert? Sacrilege!

    As you might just possibly have gathered, for this latest in a long line of concerts the maestro has come up with a slightly different program. Whilst the old chestnuts like Radetzky-Marsch and An der schonen blauen Donau are still here - there would no doubt be a riot if they were to be omitted - there are plenty of very unfamiliar titles here to demonstrate that amongst all those works that the Strauss Family came up with, there are plenty of virtually unknown gems. Add into the mix a couple of pieces from Johannes Brahms and Carl Maria von Weber, and the result is something just a little bit different from the run of the mill.

    The pieces on offer here comprise:

  1. Kaiser Franz Joseph I. - Rettungs-Jubel-Marsch Op126, Johann Strauss II
  2. Schatz-Walzer Op418, Johann Strauss II
  3. Niko-Polka Op228, Johann Strauss II
  4. Scherz-Polka Op72, Johann Strauss II
  5. Delirien, Walzer Op212, Josef Strauss
  6. Pêle-Mêle, Polka Schnell Op161, Josef Strauss
  7. Aufforderung zum Tanze, Op65 Carl Maria von Weber
  8. Secunden-Polka française Op258, Johann Strauss II
  9. Hellenen-Polka Op203, Johann Strauss II
  10. Kaiser-Walzer Op437, Johann Strauss II
  11. Bauern-Polka Op276, Johann Strauss II
  12. Lob der Frauen, Polka Mazur Op315, Johann Strauss II
  13. Chineser-Galopp Op20, Johann Strauss I
  14. Ungarischer Tanz Nr. 5, Johannes Brahms
  15. Ungarischer Tanz Nr. 6, Johannes Brahms
  16. Kronungs-Lieder, Walzer Op184, Johann Strauss II
  17. Leichtes Blut, Polka schnell Op319, Johann Strauss II
  18. Furioso, Polka Op260, Johann Strauss II
  19. An der schonen blauen Donau, Walzer Op314, Johann Strauss II
  20. Radetzky-Marsch Op228, Johann Strauss I

    The program really mixes things up a bit and probably for the better, as I don't think that Nikolaus Harnoncourt quite got on the lighter side of the music on this occasion. As a result, the program would have dragged even more than it does were it not for the spice of the more unfamiliar pieces. With the Wiener Philharmoniker providing their usual sterling efforts for the day, the result is certainly extremely reliable, and occasionally reaches greater heights than that.

    This is not the best of The New Year's Concerts by any stretch of the imagination, and probably not quite in the league of the previous Nikolaus Harnoncourt concert in 2001. Still, there is some quality music to be enjoyed here and on the whole it would be well worth while checking this latest incarnation out.

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Transfer Quality


    There really is not a fat lot to say about the transfer. The good bits are short and sweet, and the bad bit is even shorter but far less sweeter!

    As the event is shown on terrestrial television around the globe, the initial recording would naturally (at least nowadays) be a high definition effort and thus in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is of course 16x9 enhanced.

    Just like the Neujahrskonzert 2001, the transfer is a wonderfully sharp and detailed transfer with hardly a drop in quality at all throughout the transfer. Shadow detail is excellent and clarity is equally excellent. Grain is hardly an issue in the transfer, and there is nothing at all as far as low level noise issues in the transfer. The only real issue you might have with the transfer is that at times the source material does not handle the over-bright lights too well.

    The colours are beautifully rendered, really vibrant with some lovely depth to the tones. Just like the earlier release, it is in the variation of blacks that the tonal quality is amply demonstrated. There are no problems with oversaturation at all and there is no colour bleed in the transfer.

    MPEG artefacts are absent from the transfer. Where the transfer really goes awry is in the significant aliasing that is constantly present. Whilst there is the usual problem of aliasing that we expect in classical music DVDs, in the usual culprits of strings and bows, this is relatively minor stuff. The big stuff is in sequences such as the pan shot from the roof down to the stage between 36:45 and 37:10 (and vice versa between 44:25 and 44:50), where the aliasing gets quite grotesque. There are no film artefacts in the transfer.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD, although I have not been able to detect where the layer change occurs. There are obviously no subtitles on the DVD, and even music titles are absent - the latter being much missed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three soundtracks on the DVD, a dts 5.0 soundtrack, a Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack and a Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to all three soundtracks.

    Which ever way you choose to listen to this programme, the sound should not disappoint at all.

    The dts 5.0 soundtrack is very good in general, carrying everything off without any problems. The top end and low end sounds are all well dealt with and the only real issue is that the surround channels could have perhaps been used a little better. There is certainly some reasonable surround encoding here, but I just wish that it were a little more obvious to create a more solid soundscape that makes you feel that you are in a concert hall - if it weren't for the visuals, I would not know it here. The lack of the bass channel is of course no great issue in this style of music, but a little more natural bass from the drums and the double basses in the other channels would have been welcomed.

    The Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack is also very good, possibly a little better than the dts but not by much. Switching between the two for comparison purposes certainly does not indicate any substantial difference, although the Dolby Digital effort is perhaps a bit more obvious in the surround channels. It still does not, however, really make me feel as if I were there.

    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. You may of course recognise that this is the exact same paragraph from the Neujahrskonzert 2001 review - for the simple reason that it is here the best soundtrack for the same reasons it was there. It is starting to convince me that surround sound is not the way to listen to classical music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Whilst it is not much of an informative package, it is decently enough filled.


    Some reasonable audio enhancement to go with the modest animation - which looks decidedly like it was designed in Powerpoint with bits sliding in everywhere.


    Presented in three languages (German, French and English), this 20 page effort provides a decent look at the program and the reason for some of the selections made.

Featurette - Impressionen von der schonen blauen Donau und Wien (9:47)

    More of an adjunct to the main programme 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 featurettes would appear to be the efforts for 2003 (I have not seen this on television so cannot be certain). This one obviously plays to the rather well known waltz, An der schonen blauen Donau, and features imagery from around Vienna and the Danube. It is a bit grainy at times, as well as a bit shimmery but is generally respectable enough. It is presented, like all these featurettes, in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and with excellent Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. This one is not 16x9 enhanced (all the others are 16x9 enhanced).

Featurette - Bilder vom Schloss Hellbrunn mit den Wasserspielen (3:32)

    Yeah, I had one and the wheel fell off too! What this means is that the footage is of Hellbrunn Palace and its famous fountains - all accompanied by the Scherz-Polka. Whilst there is a bit of aliasing, this is probably of overall better quality than the preceding effort - much sharper for a start.

Featurette - Solisten des Balletts der Wiener Staatsoper (2:01)

    Accompanied by Hellenen-Polka, this features footage of the soloists of the Vienna State Opera Ballet strutting their stuff in the Vienna Volksgarten in front of the Theseus-Temple. This is a tad over-bright but nothing too distracting.

Featurette - Chinesische Raume im Schloss Schonbrunn (1:44)

    Cleverly using images of the Chinese chambers at the Schonbrunn Palace, this is accompanied by Chineser-Galopp. Unfortunately, all that fine detail tends to create a bit of aliasing.

Featurette - St. Petersburger Kirov Ballett im Schloss Eggenberg bei Graz (9:18)

    With the musical accompaniment of Kronungs-Lieder we get to see the St Petersburg Kirov Ballet strut their stuff at the Eggenberg Palace at Graz. Somewhat blessed with aliasing in the fine detail of the carriage, this is otherwise quite well presented.

Gallery - Photo

    Twenty three stills lifted from the main program. Not 16x9 enhanced.

Trailer - Neujahrskonzert 2002 (2:23)

    Advertising for the previous release from TDK.

Notes - About 5.0 Audio

    Well, one page that tells us why classical music does not need the low frequency effects channel.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Since this is coded for worldwide use, it would seem that it will be identical to the Region 1 release - other than PAL formatting. No preference.


    Neujahrskonzert 2003 is another excellent programme on a generally very good DVD. Like all the New Year's Concerts, if the music of the Strauss Family and others is to your taste, then there is every reason for you to be indulging in this title.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Oh come on! - Colin Johnson
Comments on PCM and Surround mixes - gRANT (Read my bio, mmm... uncompressed surround audio)