Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stock up on champagne for Vienna concert

Remember to include champagne on your holiday shopping list, so you can add your toast as the Vienna Philharmonic climaxes the festive season with its annual New Year's telecast

Public television stations -- presumably including UNC-TV, though the station's online schedule stops in December -- will again take viewers to the gilded Musikverein concert hall Jan. 1.  The "Great Performances" concert will feature bubbly and seductive Viennese music, as always, plus tributes to two illustrious non-Austrians celebrating their bicentennials in 2013: Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi. 

Franz Welser-Moest, music director of the Vienna State Opera and Cleveland Orchestra, will conduct. As always, music of the Strauss family makes up most of the menu. As a lagniappe, the orchestra will throw in morsels by less-famous Austrians Joseph Lanner -- who's credited with turning the waltz from a country dance into the elegant affair that the Strausses cashed in on -- and Josef Hellmesberger. To be specific: 

Joseph Strauss: "Music of the Spheres," waltz 

Richard Wagner: Prelude to Act 3 of "Lohengrin" 

Josef Hellmesberger: "In Confidence," polka 

Josef Strauss: "Hesperus' Paths," polka 

Joseph Lanner: "Styrian Dances"

Johann Strauss: "Melodies Quadrille" 

Johann Strauss: "Where the Lemon Trees Bloom," waltz

Johann Strauss Sr.: "Memories of Ernst," also known as "The Carnival of Venice Fantasy" 

Josef Strauss: "Chatterbox," polka 

Johann Strauss: "By the Beautiful Blue Danube"

Johann Strauss Sr.: "Radetzky March" 

Did you notice the absence of birthday boy Verdi from the list? That's because he's represented in absentia by the "Melodies Quadrille," a potpourri of Verdi tunes dished up by Johann Strauss. I admit having to look that up. 

Stage and screen veteran Julie Andrews will again be the host, and she'll take audiences on a few sightseeing trips. This year's itinerary will include a traditional Austrian inn; the ornate, 18th-century National Library; and Schloss Hof, a baroque palace outside Vienna. As always, the Vienna State Ballet will swing into action, too.