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Monday, 01 January 2024


Montagu Events - THE PHILHARMONICS @ Wahnfried
Wahnfried, McGregor
On New Years Day, Monday 1st at 11.30 am: THE PHILHARMONICS (1h) perform waltzes by Johann Strauss arranged by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern. A live performance from the Café Sperl in Vienna. Sparkling wine will be served to welcome the New Year!

The Philharmonics, the ensemble founded by members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, fill the Café Sperl with some of the most authentically Viennese sounds imaginable the Strauss waltzes that Schoenberg, Berg and Webern arranged and performed in May 1921 to raise funds for their pioneering Society for Private Musical Performances. This is music the players have in their blood, and they maintain the echt atmosphere with Godowskys tribute to the city, Alt-Wien and a clutch of Kreisler gems, rounding the programme off with a new piece by the ensembles leader Tibor Ková, based on traditional Jewish melodies and Mahler themes, Yiddische Mame.

‘’Vienna's coffee houses are institutions in their own right. They have their own customs. So it would have come as little surprise to the locals to walk into the Café Sperl and find a chamber group playing waltzes. Using arrangements by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, The Philharmonics play the tunes of Alt Wien with elegance and abandon. It's occasionally a little saccharine, but always shot through with sharp Viennese detachment.
Written to fundraise for the Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen, Schoenberg and his pupils conjured all the sweep and elegance of Strauss great tunes. They are coupled here with occasional works by Kreisler, Godowsky and a Yiddish Fantasia by first violinist Tibor Ková' (with various nods to Mahler). Played as Herr Ober delivers a Mélange to a lady sitting by the window or a slice of Topfenstrudel for the young lovers in the corner, there is a somewhat staged quality to the film, but one which everyone wears with charming ease.
There's nothing cloying about the musical performances. The Philharmonics, virtuosic members of the Wiener Philharmoniker, provide rock steady bass, spirited off-beat accompaniments and exuberant solo turns, bringing great vigour to these old tunes. The Second Viennese School arrangements really allow the performers to shape and show off, which is rare in the original versions.
It's a shame that the initial minute breezing around the Ringstraße with the group on the tram is the only snapshot we get of Vienna itself. But this is a minor quibble in what is a charming testament to Vienna's past, heard through a surprisingly modernist prism. It's a gem of a DVD.’’ reviewer

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