2013 New Year's Concert

e2013 New Year's Concert by the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic) conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. Recorded January 1, 2013 at the Goldener Saal des Wiener Musikvereins. This is one of those titles that has a blizzard of people given credit for doing a great many things, but it's not clear if anyone was in charge. Three people are credited for editing: The Live Video Editor was  Gernot Arendt, the Video Editor was Thomas King, and Herbert Roseneder was designated as Editing Concert and Ballet.  Directed for TV by Karina Fibich. Released 2013, disc claims dst-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: D-

Zoltan Glied gave us early information on the progam which I've modified slightly (to key the program numbers to the correct tracks on the disc) Thank you Zoltan!

1 and 2. Introduction
3. Josef Strauss – "Die Soubrette" (Fast Polka) ("The Sorbrette")
4. Johann Strauss II – "Kusswalzer" (Kiss Waltz)
5. Josef Strauss – "Theater-Quadrille" 
6. Johann Strauss II – "Aus den Bergen" (Waltz) ("From the Mountains")
7. Franz von Suppé – Ouvertüre to Leichte Kavallerie (Overture to Light Cavalry Operetta)
8. Josef Strauss – "Sphärenklänge" (Waltz) (Music of the Spheres)
9. Josef Strauss – "Die Spinnerin" (French polka) "The Spinner"
10. Richard Wagner – Lohengrin, Vorspiel zum III Aufzug (Prelude to Act III)
11. Joseph Hellmesberger II – "Unter vier Augen" (Polka Mazurka) ("Just Between Us")
12. Josef Strauss – "Hesperusbahnen" (Waltz) ("Hesperus' Path Waltz")
13. Josef Strauss – "Galoppin" (Fast polka) ("Errand Boy")
14. Joseph Lanner – "Steyrische Tänze" (Styrian Dances")
15. Johann Strauss II – "Melodien-Quadrille!" ("Melodies Quadrille")
16. Giuseppe Verdi – Ballettmusik Akt III von Don Carlo (Ballet music from Act III of Don Carlo)
17. Johann Strauss II – "Wo die Citronen blüh’n" (Waltz) ("Where the Lemons Blossom")
18. Johann Strauss I – "Erinnerungen an Ernst" (Fantasie) ("Reminiscences of Ernst")
19. Josef Strauss – "Plappermäulchen" (Quick polka) ("Chatterbox")
20. Traditional greeting
21. Johann Strauss II – "An der schönen blauen Donau"  (Waltz) ("Blue Danube")
22. Johann Strauss I – "Radetzky-Marsch" (March) ("Radetzky March")

This title also has two ballet bonus numbers: a Galoppin (2 min. 20 sec.) and a 10 min. set of fantasy dances by 5 couples from the Vienna State Ballet. There is also a 23 min. travel promotion film showing the adventures of a newly-wed couple in many locations in Lower Austria. These bonus items have trivial content, but they are all better made than the main concert film. 

For background that may help you with this review, see our story on the 2012 New Year's Concert. It's sad to have to report that this years' disc from Sony is even worse than the 2012 offering. The selections for 2013 are less creative than before. The video resolution is so soft that I suspected a DVD had been packaged in the Blu-ray box by mistake. After comparing subject discs to a number of other Blu-rays and DVDs, I concluded that subject video was probably made with HD cameras, but the resulting picture is only slightly better than a good DVD. In many views you can hardly tell that the sheet music has notes on the pages. In addition to all the fuzziness, the color balance is hideous with all colors generally suppressed or "grayed down", a rose/yellow dominance, yellowish reflections, and sick blues and greens. The whole hall is filled with fresh flower arrangement. The flowers are not wilted, but they still look dull and faded. The final result is a PQ so dismal I can hardly sit to watch it.

Picture content hasn't improved either since 2012. The patient has a near-fatal case of DVDites with all the symptoms discussed in my report on the 2012 NYC. The horrid spy-cam is back. It zooms repeatedly back and forth over orchestra and audience. There is even another sortie near the end of the concert where spy-cam rotates 360 degree during a single flight---driving me back to the medicine box. Maybe this isn't a change, but now I notice yet another illness in the disc which I will call "Fibich-fever." The main symptom of this malaise is that, except when the camera is focused on a soloist or small section, the camera will nearly always be somehow on the move, panning in various direction fast or slow, zooming in, zooming out, changing focus, or a combination of these maneuvers. The apparent purpose of Fibich-fever is to prevent the spectator from ever having time to enjoy any view of the orchestra that takes in a greater field of view that one to five performers.

The SQ is about the same, except that I notice that the sound on the bonus extras is better than the recording made in the Golden Hall.

Well, let's get on to some screenshots. Here's one of the best Fibich images from the 2013 New Year's Concert:

But contrast the image above with the picture just below, which was taken from the 2009 New Year's Concert photographed by Brian Large at the Golden Hall. Can you see the better resolution Large offers? And note how the Large image is made from a higher elevation, which lets you see the musicians much better:

Fibich has pretty good shots of small groups of musicians:

This is one of the most efficient images from the Fibich 2013 show. But you don't get to see this or similar views much or for long:

I'm running out of good things to say. But here is a neat shot of the organ casing which takes the form a a temple inside the temple. How did they make this shot? Why, from the spy-cam!

I think they stopped moving the spy-cam for the shot of the organ. But below are 4 shots from a more typical flight of the bumblebee. We start off looking at the rear balcony:

In the pictures from the spy-cam, resolution suffers because of motion smear. But resolution is soft also throughout this entire disc when the camera is not moving, and here are 2  examples of that:

But even worse than the general softness is the damage caused by Fibich-Fever, that  almost incessant movement of the image through  panning and zooming around. Here are 4 examples of this illness:

This video is also loaded with focus issues. Here are 4 examples:

Usually these goddesses are shown all in focus. Why show them this way? Maybe I'm missing something:

And there are too many instrument-only shots with nothing to justify them:

Below is the worst shot---it's hard to believe that Arendt, King, Roseneder, Fibich, and Sony would allow something this slovenly to happen:

And now for a pop quiz. What's going on in the picture below? (Answer at bottom of this review.)

In summary then, it's shocking to see that the great Wiener Philharmoniker would allow their brand to be diluted by such a weak product as this 2013 NYC disc. But for the consumer, it's not really that bad. How many recording of polkas and waltzes would most people want played by the same orchestra in the same building, no matter how good? So just buy the 2009 concert photographed by Brian Large. It's the perfect choice to help you pretend you are in Vienna. But if you do want to try the 2013 show, below are links you can use to make your purchase.

Answer: A camera, facing up, was positioned on the floor of the balcony built into the organ casing. The gold statute and flowers near the camera are out-of-focus. The angel with the lyre is on the peak of the roof of the temple within the temple. The peak of the roof presents an optical illusion that makes it hard for the brain to makes sense of this image. The angel (and the ceiling far above) are in sharp focus. The angel looks down over the roof of the temple at the worshippers in their pews.)