Thursday, January 1, 2009

Vienna Treats for the New Year

I continue to debate the question as to whether this blog should focus exclusively on one genre of music (what I listen to most often) or strive to be more eclectic (everything I listen to or read/hear about). Who is the audience he wonders? But while I ponder that I sit hear in a German household on New Year's Day night which means one thing: football! Just kidding. It means the traditional New Year's Day Concert from Vienna.

For those who are unfamiliar with this event, it is performed by the Vienna Philharmonic and is one of the most popular concerts of the year which includes silly visual imagery and dancing (horses and people--don't ask) supposed to reflect the music which is predominantly upbeat with lots of the Strauss family and a few other Austrians. I love the music and would prefer just watching the orchestra, but who am I to mess with tradition?!

Seems like a nice moment to share a disc from this past Fall that I never got around to writing about. My Heart Alone features Angelika Kirchschlager and Simon Keenlyside singing selections from various operetta from Strauss (Johann II) and his buds around the continent.

Now I know virtually nothing about operetta and I really don't have a clue about how to start writing about this disc. It came to me by way of Gramophone which gave it a high recommendation and was included in the Editor's Picks for September 2008. This is not to say it is widely acclaimed--some went at it with a snideness I believe is reserved for reviewers of classical music.

All I know is I enjoy the performances (particularly Kirchschlager's) and the music. It is amazing how effortless the singing is (to me) and the general "waltziness" of it all is an interesting twist on opera (again, to me). One last bonus--the liner notes to the disc are a great introduction to the music and the genre so it is a nice place to start.

Enough. I will not try to say more than I know. Here are three tracks--one duet and one aria by each--for you to judge. Evening attire and champagne is required before listening.

Weißt du es noch (from The Gypsy Princess)
Es lebt eine Vilja (from The Merry Widow)
Du sollst der Kaiser meiner Seele sein (from The Favourite) Buy Album

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