It was a wonderful start to the year and is now a permanent fixture of timeless delights. I wrote a few words back then and am now pleased to welcome a release that will be a constant companion. As ever, disappointingly and annoyingly, Sony does not respect the concert’s two halves, lumping some of the second onto the first disc, whereas the whole of part two, at seventy-six minutes, is an obvious one-disc fit. Bizarre! And the recorded sound, although vivid and detailed, lacks a little for warmth. At least Sony does not add fake clapping – this was a without-audience event (maybe a factor regarding the somewhat edgy reproduction) – and, thankfully, retains Riccardo Muti’s inspiring in-English speech (“music is a mission”) aimed at political leaders the World over.

Naturally, the 2021 repertoire includes choices from the Strauss Family (this year Johann I, Johann II and Josef) as well as Suppé (twice, a stirring March and, with lovely cello solos, a poetic Overture), Millöcker, Komzák and Zeller. Each of the eighteen pieces (including The Blue Danube and the Radetzky March, regular encores both) is very enjoyable, not least Johann II’s medley of Italian Opera hits, and – here on the highest level of interpretation and performance – the exalted Emperor Waltz, an expansive and impressive account that is deeply affecting.

This is the Vienna’s Philharmonic’s music to which its members bring innate style and loyal devotion, enhanced by Muti’s particularly caring and energised manner (his sixth New Year’s Concert) – whatever the form and tempo of any one piece might be. Outstanding from maestro and musicians. Sony Classical 19439840162 (2 CDs).

The Works

Franz von Suppè Fatinitza March Johann Strauß II. Schallwellen (Sound Waves), Waltz, op. 148 Johann Strauß II. Niko Polka, op. 228 Josef Strauß Ohne Sorgen (Without a Care), Fast Polka, op. 271 Carl Zeller Grubenlichter (Davy Lamps), Waltz Carl Millöcker In Saus und Braus (Living It Up), Galop

— INTERMISSION —

Franz von Suppè Overture to “Poet and Peasant” Karl Komzák Bad’ner Mad’ln (Girls of Baden), Waltz, op. 257 Josef Strauß Margherita Polka, op. 244 Johann Strauß I. Venetian Galop, op. 74 Johann Strauß II. Frühlingsstimmen (Voices of Spring), Waltz, op. 410 Johann Strauß II. In the Krapfenwaldl, Polka française, op. 336 Johann Strauß II. New Melodies Quadrille. op. 254 Johann Strauß II. Emperor Waltz, op. 437 Johann Strauß II. Tempestuous in Love and Dance, Fast Polka, op. 393

plus Muti’s words and three encores