All the biographies of Christian Thielemann (Berlin, 1959) relate a curious failure in their career. It took place, in 1985, during the Karajan Contest for young directors when it was disqualified for not passing the first measures of the prelude to Tristan and Isolde, of Wagner, after twenty minutes of work with the orchestra. The other contestants, in that space of time, had rehearsed and even played the play, but the Berliner wanted to dive deeper into the score and find his own treasures. That same thing he has done in his debut at the New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic. But if what happened more than thirty years ago marked the start of one of the best Wagnerians of the present, what happened on Tuesday January 1 in Vienna will not go down in history.
The relationship of Thielemann with the Vienna Philharmonic, in his b series of concerts in the Musikverein, began in October 2000. He directed a memorable concert with the Alpine symphony and the opera suite The knight of the rose, by Richard Strauss, that is to say, the German composer who has nothing to do with the Austrian dynasty of the same surname as the New Year's Concert. Thielemann told Kläre Warnecke about his experience in his 2003 biography (Henschel): "It was love at first sight with the Vienna Philharmonic. I thought it would be a difficult orchestra, and I was pleasantly surprised at how extremely polite, friendly and open I was. " The sensational result can be heard on CD published by Deutsche Grammophon. But one thing is the Bavarian Strauss and quite another the Viennese saga, although Thielemann applies with them the same pattern of sound refinement and that personal global vision of the work.
The Berliner started the first part marking the land with much temper. But the Vienna Philharmonic shone even in a pompous air march written by a rival Strauss musician and specialized in bands, such as Karl Michael Ziehrer. Followed the first test of fire of the concert, the waltz Transactions, by Josef Strauss, where it was intended to commemorate the century and a half of Austro-Japanese commercial relations, and the Berliner brought out his palette of colors and dynamics, but also showed his Prussian rigidity. Everything improved in the mendelssohniana piece of character entitled Run of elves, Josef Hellmesberger Jr., and showed charm and precision in the fast polka EXPRESS, by Johann Jr., which was a novelty in the New Year's Concert. The letters turned into the introduction of the waltz North Sea prints, from the same composer. The exquisiteness did not translate into magic. And elegant and naturalistic evocations passed before our eyes (like that storm that sounded like The Flying Dutchman wagneriano), but the waltz did not finish taking off and it sounded with little flavor. Thielemann imposed the Prussian accent on the natural and fluid Viennese pronunciation of the waltz. The first part closed with a worthy tribute to the less usual of the Strauss, Eduard, and one of his best fast polkas, With extra postage, which ran like electricity through sections of the Viennese orchestra.
The second part followed the same route. In the overture of the operetta The gypsy baron, by Johann Strauss Jr., Thielemann showed his trade as an operatic director. And that fusion between the Hungarian rhapsodic and the Viennese elegance worked ideally, but the waltz did not finish ascending. The Berliner accurately controlled every detail of the polkas, such as the French The dancer, by Josef Strauss, or The Bayaya, of his brother Johann, included in his operetta Indigo and the forty thieves. But waltzes followed the outline of a symphonic poem, as demonstrated in the famous Artist's life, by Johann Jr. Here you can see the first of the two pre-recorded ballet scenes, with choreography by Andrey Kaydanovskiy and costumes by Arthur Arbesser, as a tribute to the 150th anniversary of the Vienna State Opera. Both breathed airs of modernity and visual freshness, as did Henning Kasten with his excellent performance. The best thing was again the polkas, with a delicious version of the French Afternoon at the opera, by Eduard Strauss, which was also a novelty in the New Year's Concert.
A brilliant version without fantasy
The aforementioned tribute to the anniversary of the theater of the Viennese Ringstrasse focused on two instrumental works of the only opera that Johann Strauss son premiered there, precisely on January 1, 1892: Caballero Pásmán, a bland title that is remembered today, especially for its magnificent ballet. The Vals de Eva, another novelty in this edition, followed by the sensational ballet zarda. Thielemann directed a brilliant version, but without an iota of fantasy; very far from that milestone that was Carlos Kleiber, in 1989. Again, the pre-recorded ballet scene again won the game to music with the magnificent choreography and costumes set in the beautiful Grafenegg Castle. The Egyptian March, by Johann Strauss Jr., included the only playful concession, even though the orchestra's humming is indicated in the score. And the Prussian style of Thielemann waltzes went to the extreme with the Entreact Waltz, of Hellmesberger son.
One thing is the Bavarian Strauss and quite another the Viennese saga
The polka mazurka Praise of women, by Johann Jr., was perhaps the best of the whole concert, together with the waltz Music of the spheres, by Josef Strauss, with that perfume of Tannhäuser Wagnerian Thielemann returned to a global plot of symphonic poem, but without attending to the subtleties of the Viennese waltz that represented in this same room Karajan or Kleiber in the New Year Concerts, of 1987 and 1992. The relationship of the Berliner with the orchestra is certainly unbeatable . He showed it by raising several musicians at the end of the programmed works. Among them more women than ever, and in prominent positions, such as the Bulgarian violinist Albena Danailova, the Italian flautist Silvia Careddu and the French bassoonist Sophie Dervaux.
The tips started this year with the quick polka Hurry and running, also from the Indigo operetta and the forty thieves, by Johann Jr., with another brilliant version by Thielemann. After the congratulation of the year, the concert was closed with the two compositions of rigor: the waltz The beautiful blue Danube, by Johann Strauss Jr., another symphonic poem in the hands of the Berliner and a curious version of the Radetzky March, where Thielemann showed his power of suggestion with the public, to which he indicated all kinds of dynamics, as if he were part of the orchestra. The intermediate documentary, by Felix Beisach, was dedicated to the aforementioned anniversary of the Viennese Opera and ended with an exceptional version of the waltzes of The knight of the rose, but in an arrangement for violin and piano, played masterfully by the Viennese orchestra conductor Volkhard Steude. It was the irrefutable proof that the German Strauss does work to the Viennese.