Neujahrskonzert 2001: New Years Concert (DVD-Audio) (2001) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 22-May-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Booklet
Notes-A History Of The New Year's Concert
Gallery-The Musikverein
Audio-Only Track-Also Available
Notes-Credits
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 96:03
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Wiener Philharmoniker
Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $32.95 Music Johann Strauss
Joseph Lanner
Johann Strauss


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Audio MLP 96/24 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 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

    Since I reviewed the previously released DVD-Video of this particular concert, it seems appropriate that I should indulge the music again in its DVD-Audio incarnation. For those who have not yet indulged in a New Years Concert, the tradition was started during the war years and has now been going for over sixty years. On the morning of New Years Day, those lucky souls who have managed to get a ticket make their way to the magnificent Musikverein in Vienna to be entertained by the Wiener Philharmoniker, conducted by a guest conductor. Some great conductors have been in charge of the orchestra for these concerts, but in my view two stand head and shoulders above the rest: Willi Boskovsky and Herbert von Karajan. Willi Boskovksy was perhaps the greatest conductor of Viennese light music that has ever graced the planet and his recordings of the material are magnificent. He was in charge of the New Year's Concert no less than twenty five times and my bet is that every one was a joy. After a period with the less brilliant Lorin Maazel at the head of the orchestra, the system of the guest conductors was started. Whilst the guest conductors have managed to include the most boring conductor on the planet, Zubin Mehta, and the third most boring conductor on the planet, Riccardo Muti, they have also included the legendary Herbert von Karajan. His single outing as conductor in 1987 to this day remains the most incandescent New Years Concert ever. Unfortunately, since Deutsche Grammophon, who own the rights to that recording, have been seduced by the dark side (a.k.a. SACD), the likelihood that we will ever see that brilliant concert on DVD-Audio is receding quicker than my hairline. As mentioned in my review of the equivalent DVD-Video release, the 2001 concert was under the baton of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, a name that I would not readily associate with this sort of music. Despite the lack of connection with the music, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who is far more renowned for his work with original instrument recordings of baroque music, managed to turn in a very enjoyable concert. He must be highly thought of, for he is returning for the 2003 New Year's Concert.

    The concert as usual blends the very familiar, the traditional and the not so well known. 2001 saw the bicentenary of the birth of another great Austrian composer of light music, Joseph Lanner, so his works featured a little more prominently this time round. Fair enough too, because he did write some good stuff, even if Austrian light music seems to start and end with the very talented Strauss family. With the Wiener Philharmoniker once again more than up for the job, the overall result is a most enjoyable concert. Now, astute readers might have noticed that the running time of the DVD-Audio is 96:03 whereas the running time of the DVD-Video is 108:11. As far as I can ascertain, all that is missing from the DVD-Audio is the stuff between pieces - applause, conductor heading on and off stage and so on. Whilst it is nice to see the bows and so on on video, it really would get quite boring on audio only, so has rightly been severed from the recording.

    As I said in the DVD-Video review, some traditions keep going because people have not got the good sense and taste to let them die. This 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 extortionate 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.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. Radetzky-Marsch (original version)
2. Die Schonbrunner, Walzer
3. Jagers Lust, Jagd-Galopp
4. Morgenblatter, Walzer
5. Electro-magnetische Polka
6. Electrofor-Polka schnell
7. Overture Eine Nacht in Venedig
8. Harlekin-Polka
9. Dorfschwalben aus Osterreich Walzer
10. Steyrische Tanze
11. Vergnugungszug, Polka schnell
12. Seid umschlungen, Millionen, Walzer
13. Der Kobold, Polka Mazur
14. Luzifer-Polka
15. Obne Sorgen, Polka schnell
16. An der schonen blauen Donau, Walzer
17. Radetzky-Marsch

Transfer Quality

Video

    The NTSC menus and stills are clear and quite sharp, with the text easy to read.

Audio

    The disc contains two sound format choices: the default DVD-Audio MLP 96 kHz/24 bit 5.1 soundtrack and a DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 448 Kb/s soundtrack. I listened to both soundtrack formats in their entirety.

    There is not much to complain about with respect of the DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, other than the same issue I had with the DVD-Video: bass. I have said it before and will no doubt say it again, but most sound engineers seem to miss the fundamental of classical music: it has a natural bass sound that does not need any augmentation through a booming LFE channel. Whilst the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is in all other respects very good, the over-resonant bass does rob the music of a natural sound in some ways. Thankfully, it is only usually when the kettle drums sound off and they are not frequently used, so the problem is not exactly constant. Indeed, in all probability the 5.1 audio here is the same as the 5.1 audio used on the DVD-Video - it just seems to have the same characteristics. The rear surround channels and front surround channels both have plenty of presence.

    The immediate difference between the DVD-Video Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and the DVD-Audio MLP 5.1 soundtrack is pretty obvious. There is a load less bass in the MLP 5.1 soundtrack, with the immediate result that this is a lighter, more natural-sounding effort - in fact, more like the way you would expect to hear the music played in the concert hall. Not that it is like a concert sound, because the separation of the instruments is not especially good. When you sit at a concert, you have the violins sitting over to your left, the violas in the middle and the celli and bass to the right. Similar across stage segregation of instruments of the woodwind and brass is also noted. The result is that you have this lovely sweeping feeling to the music as it glides across the registers of the strings and the wind instruments. You don't get that feeling here. Even though I know where the instruments are located since I have seen the DVD-Video, I just don't get the corresponding sound image from the audio. Perhaps this makes the soundtrack sound bad, so I should hasten to add that the soundtrack is actually pretty good - it just lacks that something that gives the sweep and majesty to the music by presenting a slightly flat mix. Of course, this is an early mixing attempt and I would suggest that with experience that the engineers will do a better job. On the evidence here though, classical music presents a few more problems with instrument segregation than does rock music. Despite that qualm, this is still a very nice way of listening to this light music - the sound is very much what I would expect from this sort of music and it is quite enjoyable as a result. The audience noise has been kept to a minimum, but when it is present it seems to correctly come from the rear surrounds.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Booklet

    A reasonable 24-page booklet that unfortunately falls into the trap of recreating the problem with classical CDs - the notes are in three languages so the bit that actually relates to the language you want is not exactly huge. This effectively cuts down the readable English bit to four pages of notes about the concerts.

Notes - A History Of The New Year's Concert

    Five pages of reasonably informative narrative about the origin and continued tradition of the New Year's Concert. Nice without being spectacular.

Gallery - The Musikverein

    Nine photographs of the magnificent Musikverein. Whilst very nice in themselves, completely inadequate in my view!

Audio-Only Track - Also Available

    A catalogue of the available classical DVD-Audio discs, featuring a photo of the album cover and (when played in DVD-Audio mode) a sound bite of about one minute in length for each DVD. The only exception is the six Beethoven discs which garner one minute or so for the entire collection of nine symphonies.

Notes - Credits

    Six pages of text covering the original concert as well as the DVD.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD-Audio is identical in content and format around the world.

Summary

    Being the first classical DVD-Audio disc I have listened to in its entirety, it is difficult to know whether some of the minor qualms are an inexperience thing, a format thing or are real. What I can say is that even with those minor qualms, this is a very enjoyable DVD-Audio disc with some lovely light music. If you have the DVD-Video disc, then you already know this of course even though the Advanced Resolution sound of the DVD-Audio format is a quantum improvement over the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Any reasonable music collection needs examples of light music and the waltzes and other music of the Strauss family are always welcome. Add into the equation some music from Joseph Lanner for a bit of variety and this is difficult to go past.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Saturday, August 17, 2002
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) NONE