New Year’s concert 2017: Dudamel and Vienna Philharmonic

New Year’s concert from Vienna: The program and serving suggestion


As a good citizen in the world of music, I feel it is incumbent to warn you that Gustavo Dudamel will be conducting the New Year’s concert from Vienna this year, leading the Vienna Philharmonic in the program listed below (and encores). I am as sure as I can be of anything that this will be a knockout event. Here in Southern California the concert will air at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 1) on KOCE (PBS). Serving suggestion: Traditionally, the broadcast goes quite well with a bottle of good champagne.

Franz Lehár
Nechledil Marsch aus der Operette Wiener Frauen
Les Patineurs. Walzer, op. 183
Johann Strauss, Jr.
S’ gibt nur a Kaiserstadt,s’ gibt nur a Wien. Polka, op. 291
Josef Strauss
Winterlust. Polka (schnell), op. 121
Johann Strauss, Jr.
Mephistos Höllenrufe. Walzer, op. 101
So ängstlich sind wir nicht! Schnell-Polka, op. 413
— Pause —
Franz von Suppé
Ouvertüre zu Pique Dame
Carl Michael Ziehrer
Hereinspaziert! Walzer aus der Operette „Der Schätzmeister“, op. 518
Otto Nicolai
Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor), Moon Choir
Johann Strauss, Jr.
Pepita-Polka, op. 138
Rotunde-Quadrille, op. 360
Die Extravaganten. Walzer, op. 205
Johann Strauss, sen.
Indianer-Galopp. op. 111
Josef Strauss
Die Nasswalderin. Polka mazur,op. 267
Johann Strauss, Jr.
Auf zum Tanze! Polka schnell, op. 436
Tausend und eine Nacht. Walzer nach Motiven der Operette “Indigo”
Tik-Tak. Polka schnell, op. 365

Horn master class: ‘Till Eulenspiegel’

There are a series of these master classes on YouTube, with members of the Berlin Philharmonic helping younger players in key orchestral excerpts. This one concentrating on the first few bars of Strauss’ “Till Eulenspiegel,” and the famous and tricky horn solo therein, is particularly interesting because it shows the meticulous attention to detail that great orchestral musicians bring to the parts they play. Both of these horn players here are very good, by the way, but the Berlin’s Stefan de Level Jezierski is something else, as you will no doubt hear.

Video: Pierre Monteux conducts the Chicago Symphony

He was 86 years old in 1961, the year this was taped. Economical but very communicative beat. His eyes are also wonderfully expressive here.

1. Beethoven: Symphony No.8
2. Wagner: ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’ Prelude to Act 3
3. Berlioz: ‘Roman Carnival’ Overture

Audio: March from ‘The Nutcracker’

Stewart Goodyear, piano.

Members of L.A. Phil play ‘Sleigh Ride’ by Leroy Anderson

In some browsers you can watch this in 360 degrees. Either way, it’s fun.

Beethoven, Pershing Square, Los Angeles


Beethoven statue in Pershing Square, Los Angeles, Dec. 14, 2016.

Audio: Martinu: ‘Thunderbolt P-47,’ scherzo for orchestra

Instant recording libraries: Classical CD deals

71zpe0gtzsl-_sl1245_Browsing through the Amazon classical music section recently, in search of ideas for Christmas, I once again noticed that CDs are now, in many cases, dirt cheap, especially when ensconced in gargantuan boxed sets. They are not only cheaper than downloads, but also higher fidelity, which is to say for you youngsters out there, better sounding.

In some cases, you can make a single purchase and have an instant and respectable library of classical music.

For instance, a newbie could buy “Karajan: Official Remastered Version,” released in September by Warner Classics/Parlophone, and get 101 CDs at about $1.70 a pop, and a large swath of the Western canon to boot. OK, some of these recordings are mono, but with current remastering techniques these will no doubt sound just fine. The orchestras featured include the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Philharmonia and others, in other words some of the best on the planet.

The new complete edition of Mozart, “Mozart 225,” a bestseller, is similarly low-priced, 200 CDs, and some 240 hours of music, for a mere $340.

OK, so you don’t have a couple hundred to blow on CDs, there are plenty of boxed sets for cheaper. I had my eye on the complete Chicago Symphony recordings of the great French conductor Jean Martinon, 10 CDs of wonderful repertoire (by Mennin, Varese, Roussel, Martinon, Hindemith … the Weber clarinet concertos played by Benny Goodman … as well as more common fare) for a mere $19.

Boxes devoted to conductors from the golden age are especially attractive. I have a thing for French conductors (as anyone who reads this blog will know). Decca has released a complete package of the recordings made for the label by Pierre Monteux, 20 CDs for $70, great recordings with the London Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Concertgebouw and the Paris Conservatory Orchestra. (I probably won’t buy it, though; I have virtually all of it on vinyl.)

Or there’s a hard-to-surpass set of French music recorded by Ernest Ansermet and the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande, 32 CDs of definitive accounts of music by Debussy, Ravel, Faure, Dukas, Martin and others for just $80.

71fgsdyn1yl-_sl1200_Need a set of the Beethoven Nine? Bernstein’s with the New York Philharmonic (no slouch) is $11. George Szell’s exceptional traversal with the Cleveland Orchestra is $13. Slightly higher in price is a compelling Nine led by Monteux. Want some history? You can find Toscanini leading all nine symphonies for less than $9, Furtwangler for $16.

Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic in the nine Bruckner symphonies (9 CDs): $35.  Bernard Haitink and the London Philharmonic in the nine Vaughan Williams symphonies (7 CDs): $18. Paavo Berglund and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the seven Sibelius symphonies (4 CDs): $13.

It’s not all orchestral. It goes on and on. The Tokyo String Quartet plays all of Beethoven’s string quartets (there are 16) on 9 discs for … $13. There’s a lot more; go look for yourself.

Many labels have also been releasing huge sets of their general catalog. Mercury Living Presence, justly celebrated by audiophiles, has three volumes, of 51, 55 and 53 CDs, respectively, with the highest priced at $119.

No longer have a CD player? Good portable models are easy to find for less than $30.

Update: The complete works of Stravinsky, conducted by the composer, 22 CDs: $26.

Mozart box outsells Beyonce and other people we don’t listen to


91gvjsdmhfl-_sl1500_-1Billboard magazine is reporting that a mammoth Mozart boxed set that went on sale in late October is the “biggest-selling CD act of 2016,” outpacing such heavyweight contenders as Beyonce, Drake and other people we never listen to.

The story isn’t “fake news,” exactly, but it is heavily spun. First of all, CD sales have tanked in recent years; the medium is no longer the preferred way of listening to music. (Downloading and streaming are, though this week it was reported that in the UK, sales of vinyl recently surpassed those of digital downloads.)

What’s more, to get to the Mozart-winning number, Billboard tallied every single CD in the boxed set, which included 200 CDs, or virtually all of Mozart’s music.

If you look at the fine print, Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition, released by Universal Music Group, sold just a little more than 6,000 units to nab the headline.

So don’t expect your loud neighbor to start blasting “La clemenza di Tito” at their pool parties anytime soon.

Still, the story invents a fun little factoid, and maybe it will inspire a few more people to sample some Mozart in the future.

“Mozart’s immortal melodies, no less than The Beatles or ABBA, are in some way part of all our lives,” said Paul Moseley, the director of Mozart 225, thereby becoming the first person in history to use a Swedish pop group from the ’70s  to bolster the reputation of Wolfgang Amadeus.