Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Best European 2013-2014 New Year's Concerts: The Dancers of the Wiener Staatsballet "stole the show"

Dancers from the Wiener Staatsballett

The televised New Year's concerts from the Berlin Philharmonie, the Dresden Semper Oper, the Vienna Musikverein and La Fenice in Venice are the eagerly awaited best "delayed Christmas presents" for music lovers in Europe and many countries on other continents.

This year was no exception. All four concerts were wonderful in their own way.

Sir Simon Rattle

The Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle have been doing their "own thing" quite successfully for years now. The Philharmoniker web page describes it in this way:

For classical music fans, jaunty dance rhythms are just as much a part of New Year’s Eve as the sound of corks popping and fireworks. But need it be waltzes from Vienna, the city on the Danube, ringing in the New Year? By no means, according to the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle – and they traditionally programme different music for their New Year’s concerts along the river Spree.

The highlight of the Berlin New Year's Eve concert this year was Sergei Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto, with the Chinese virtuoso Lang Lang as the brilliant soloist. The entire evening was a great success, with the Philharmoniker and Sir Simon in top form.

Klaus Florian Vogt, Renée Fleming and Christian Thielmann

The Staatskapelle Dresden's "competing" New Year's Eve concert has during the last few years focused on operetta music. The fact that Christian Thielemann, the orchestra's eminent chief conductor, is a self-confessed lover of operetta, is of course a god sent gift to all of us who share his passion.

This year's concert was another smash hit, with the wonderful, velvet voiced Renée Fleming as the highlight of the evening. What an entertainer this multitalented lady is! She certainly knows how to charm an audience. German star tenor Klaus Florian Vogt was as good as was to be expected, and sounded great also in the duets with Fleming.

The Vienna New Year's concerts do not need any introduction. The Wiener Philharmoniker's concert on January 1 is the world's most famous and well known annual music event. I belong to those who in the 1960s and 1970s always looked forward to see the legendary Willi Boskovsky conduct the Vienna concerts on television.

Since1986 the orchestra musicians have chosen a different conductor every year. This year it was great to see maestro Daniel Barenboim in charge of the orchestra, which - as always - sounded great.

But for this "reviewer" the greatest stars of the event were the dancers from the Wiener Staatsballett: Maria Yakovleva, Nina Poláková, Irina Tsymbal, Ketevan Papava, Prisca Zeisel, Kirill Koundraev, Mihail Sosnovschi, Ene Peci, Kamil Pavelka and Alexis Forabosco.

I have never seen more beautifully danced and choreographed concert performances than the ones in this New Year's concert. Kudos to Ashley Page for the choreography! An the dresses by Vivienne Westwood were gorgeous.

Diego Matheuz at the La Fenice New Year's concert

The last of the New Year's concerts was the one from La Fenice, broadcast on ARTE in the evening of January 1. This year the orchestra's young chief conductor Diego Matheuz had chosen a nice mix of well known, mainly Italian opera music by RossiniVerdi, Bellini, Puccini, Mascagni and Donizetti for the concert. It was again a memorable evening of bel canto from one of the world's most beautiful opera houses. The two soloists, Italian soprano Carmen Giannattasio and American tenor Lawrence Brownlee, were excellent.

 The wonderful dancers of the Wiener Staatsballett

Suddenly the dancers turned into a painting! It was magical television!


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