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Album Review

Daniel Barenboim led his first New Year's Concert with the Vienna Philharmonic in 2009, thus becoming the 14th maestro in this series' 69th year. This illustrious orchestra maintains a tradition of playing the most popular waltzes and polkas by Johann Strauss I and Johann Strauss II, but there are two other composers honored on this program, Joseph Hellmesberger II, with his Valse espagnole, and Franz Joseph Haydn, with the Finale of the Farewell Symphony; the latter selection was picked to honor the 200th anniversary of Haydn's death. When it comes to Viennese light music, no ensemble plays it better, and the Vienna Philharmonic gives its all, no matter how frequently it has performed this extremely familiar repertoire. The audience contributes its own energy to the proceedings, and the recordings derive much of their fun from its participation, particularly in the rousing Radetzky March. There is really only one issue with this double-disc from Decca, pertaining to the bass-heavy audio quality that lends the music a thickness that runs counter to the bubbly spirit of the concert. But beyond that technical matter, which is due to the microphone positions, this is a relaxing and jovial celebration, and certainly a fine set of Strauss staples for beginners to explore.

Biography

Born: 15 November 1942 in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

An internationally known pianist and conductor, Daniel Barenboim has toured with the Chicago Symphony and was the music director of the Orchestre de Paris for more than 14 years. His repertoire includes Beethoven, Mozart and Anton Bruckner symphonies. Born in Argentina, Barenboim's musical career began at the age of five, when his parents gave him piano lessons. His parents were his only teachers, but a great influence in his life was the pianist Artur Rubenstein, whom he met through his parents,...
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