The Salzburg Wind Philharmonic under its principal conductor Hansjörg Angerer played its debut concert with great success on 6 January 2023 in the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg. The concert was broadcast live on Servus TV in Austria, Germany and Switzerland
Since 2010 the Bläserphilharmonie has given an annual New Year’s Concert, taking inspiration from the Vienna Philharmonic, and it has become a regular feature of cultural life in Salzburg. This year the Bläserphilharmonie Salzburg performed cheerful Viennese and English music of the light entertainment genre on the theme Friends, life is worth living! for an enthusiastic capacity audience in the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg.
The concert began with the waltz Hereinspaziert! (Come on in!) by Carl Michael Ziehrer, and the title had many special meanings for this concert: an invitation to the actual concert, to the New Year and to the phenomenal sound of the newly founded orchestra.
The concert continued with the rousing overture to Ziehrer’s operetta Die Landstreicher, thus setting the atmosphere for the first half of the programme. After the humorous march Jetzt geht’s los (Off it goes) by Franz Lehár, tenor Nutthaporn Thammathi gave an excellent and heart-warming interpretation of Lehár’s song Freunde, das Leben ist lebenswert. Hats off not only for Thammathi’s outstanding singing but also for an excellent conductor and a masterful arranger who knew how to keep everything perfectly balanced.
Without music by Johann Strauss II such a concert would be incomplete, and one of his waltzes and the polka Leichtes Blut (Light Blood) followed. It was especially wonderful to hear the rarely played Lagoon Waltz ‘Ach, wie so herrlich zu schau’n’ (Oh, how wonderful they are to watch).
Tenor Nutthaporn Thammathi returned to the stage to sing songs by Robert Stolz and Carl Millöcker. He gave an enthralling performance of ‘Ob blond, ob braun, ich liebe alle Frau’n’ (Whether blond or brunette, I love all women) by Robert Stolz as well as Millöcker’s ‘Ich habe kein Geld, bin vogelfrei’ (I have no money, am free as a bird). The never-ending applause was rewarded with a magnificent rendering of the song Granada as an encore. The first half of the concert ended with an excellent interpretation of the waltz Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb’ und Lust’ by Josef Strauss.
The second half of the concert had a very British touch with music by five English composers. After a wonderful interpretation of the overture to the operetta H.M.S. Pinafore by Arthur Sullivan, Angerer put his orchestra to a hard test with the second piece, the fourth movement ‘Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity’ from the orchestral suite The Planets by Gustav Holst, which these outstanding musicians of course mastered with ease. The third piece was the Cinderella Phantasy by Eric Coates, rarely heard outside Great Britain. This is a pity because this fascinating composition has much to offer, especially when it is played with such supreme musicality as in this concert.
By choosing the first movement Seventeen Come Sunday from the English Folk Song Suite by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Angerer gave his leader, Wenzel Fuchs, solo clarinettist of the Berlin Philharmonic, the chance to perform as soloist. Afterwards superb interpretations of three English Dances by Malcolm Arnold were to be heard. The orchestra demonstrated its virtuoso skills and presented another highlight of this programme.
So as not to create a false impression, it must be said that it is not merely the virtuosity that is so remarkable, but also the all-pervading phenomenal musicality of the orchestra and its conductor.
The official programme came to an end with the march The Dam Busters by Eric Coates, a march which the author of this review has heard hundreds of times but never in such a convincing interpretation. Perhaps only an Austrian conductor can give such an interpretation of this march. The tumultuous applause at the end demanded an encore of course, until Angerer finally brought the concert to a close with the Radetzky March.
All the works on this programme were transcriptions by Albert Schwarzmann. It has long been well known that he creates excellent orchestrations of the kind of music in the first half of the concert, but his transcriptions of the three English Dances by Malcolm Arnold were absolutely magnificent. One might ask oneself whether a new version of an original wind orchestra composition such as Seventeen Come Sunday by Vaughan Williams is necessary. Here, however, it is a matter of an old tradition whereby conductors update older works to accommodate their ideas of orchestral sound. For instance, Gustav Mahler made new adaptations of Beethoven’s symphonies and Sir Thomas Beecham commissioned Eugene Goossens in 1950 to make an arrangement of Handel’s Messiah for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Salzburg Wind Philharmonic is a world-class orchestra and the Epiphany Concert can rightly be compared with the New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Finally, it must be said that it is not only the extreme musicality of the orchestra that is impressive but the joy that these excellent musicians convey when playing in this formation.
Leon J. Bly