There has been a continuous tradition of concerts
on New Year's Day in
The programme notes point out that Mozart's overture to The Marriage of Figaro contains not a single melody that later features in the main body of the opera – an indication perhaps of the composer's fecundity of invention – whereas Strauss II's overture to his Die Fledermaus is a more conventional compendium of tunes that pop up later.
In Mozart's aria Die Bildnis from The
Magic Flute, tenor Joshua Ellicott instantly demonstrated
that he had volume to spare. It was a pity, therefore, that even his voice was
overshadowed to the extent of occasional inaudibility by the 33-strong orchestra
both in Zeller's Roses in Tirol and in Sieczynski's
The Mozart was succeeded by a couple of Lehar operetta arias, the delightful and lyrical My Little Nest of Heavenly Blue and the famous You Are My Heart's Delight. I was at school with one of Franz Lehar's grandsons and I can remember his playing a keyboard version of this latter on an ancient honky-tonk piano that was missing several keys. Ellicott sang and took his applause all wreathed in smiles – his sense of enjoyment was infectious.
Franz von Suppé's Morning, Noon and Night in
In Part II the programme delved into the Strauss Waltz, Polka and March box of delights. Conductor Stephen Bell gave a pithy introduction to most of the pieces, producing little anecdotes. Conducting with verve, his enthusiasm ran to the bending of his knees and making little springs in the air, a springboard diver plunging into the Mariana Trench. These dance pieces were played with notably rhythmic grace with just a couple of infelicities: in the Emperor Waltz there was hesitation in continuity around the crescendo build-up, and I thought in the Pizzicato Polka the violins, striving for volume contrast, slightly overdid the sotto voce plucking. The Blue Danube Waltz, a favourite for circus high-wire acts, was delivered with swinging aplomb, sending us off happily into the night air.