Few concerts can claim to generate such tremendous international interest as the New Year's Concert from Vienna. Under the baton of the world's leading conductors the Vienna Philharmonic rings in the New Year with a gala concert from the magnificent setting of the Golden Hall in Vienna's Musikverein. The event is broadcast to over 90 countries all over the world and watched by more than 50 million viewers. In 2018 Riccardo Muti will conduct the prestigious New Year's concert for the 5th time | 1993 1997 2000 and 2004 | . Together with Zubin Mehta Riccardo Muti is one of the most engaged New Year's Concert conductors since the era of Lorin Maazel. The conductor's close artistic relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra celebrates 47 years 500 concerts and dates back to 1971. In 2011, this exceptional bond was awarded with the Honorary Membership in the Vienna Philharmonic.
Based on Sophocles' famous tragedy, Stravinsky's grippingly powerful Oedipus Rex represents the pinnacle of his neo-classical style, using the chorus and aria structure of that earlier period to great dramatic effect. Similarly drwing inspiration from classical antiquity, the ballet Apollom musagete evokes the grand French tradition of the 17th and 18th centuries, its two tableaux displaying rich string harmonies and textures that are pleasantly mesmerising, expressive and calmly indulgent.
Igor Stravinsky was one of music's truly epochal innovators; no other composer of the twentieth century exerted such a pervasive influence or dominated his art in the way that Stravinsky did during his seven-decade musical career. Aside from purely technical considerations such as rhythm and harmony, the most important hallmark of Stravinsky's style is, indeed, its changing face.
Is there any doubt that Robert Craft is the reigning Stravinsky conductor of our time? His years of friendship with, apprenticeship to and quasi-adoption by Stravinsky certainly give him bona fides for this, but it is his impeccable musicianship that tells here. These performances have appeared before on CD Jeu de cartes and Danses concertantes on Koch, and the Scènes de Ballet, Variations, and Capriccio on MusicMasters all recorded in the 1990s. Naxos is in the process of re-releasing on their own label all of Craft's Stravinsky recordings of that period (plus a few new ones done specifically for them) and the series is an undiluted triumph.
One of the big events of 2017 was the opening of the Hamburg Philharmonie. Krzysztof Urbański and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra gave inaugural concerts there that made a lasting impact on audiences and critics alike. On this occasion, the Polish conductor chose to record one of the works closest to his heart, The Rite of Spring: "Stravinsky invented a new language. For me, The Rite is not a score, but a painting: on each page, I see Matisse, Gauguin, the Fauve painters . . . It’s an explosion of colours, emotions, and surprises too: if you don’t know the piece, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s so suggestive that you don’t need to do all that much with the orchestra, the magic is written into the music. . .