Preview: Prague New Year's Concert
An orchestral start to a whole new year
Posted: December 12, 2012
Conductor Friedemann Riehle will bring down the baton for the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra to officially begin 2013.
If one must do more on New Year's than sleep late, brunch long, drink early and then turn in whenever is easiest to prepare for Jan. 2, a Wednesday and a workday, then one could do worse, provided one can sit still and handle the brass and wind, than see the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra's annual concert. Conductor Friedemann Riehle and the soprano Anda Louise Bogza will lead the ensemble through selections from Strauss, Smetana, Mozart and more.
In tribute to the K and K monarchy (that would be kaiserlich-königlich, or the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), Riehle will bring the year in with selections such as "The Blue Danube Waltz," "Bandits' Galop" and "Thunder and Lightning Polka." And the Rudolfinum's hall does seem a safe place to listen to the glory tunes of an era before the Great War, and then the last good one, and then all the other littler conflicts and the whole uncertain future that comes with a new year.
Later on in the bill, listen for "The Moldau" by Smetana, which Riehle believes to have inspired "The Blue Danube Waltz": Both, for example, take a broken chord as their starting point - respectively E minor and D major. Bogza will take part in arias by Mozart, Puccini and Verdi, and the conductor expects to raise the audience from their seats with the "Radetzky March," about a Czech nobleman who also served as a field marshal.
For those who can't bear extending the holiday season through the first day of 2013, there is also the option of bringing it to a close with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. On Dec. 31, Boris Perrenoud will lead the orchestra and the soloist Da-eun Kim will play piano.
In an interview with The Prague Post earlier this year, Riehle had said that winter's longer evenings and the city's collective readiness for meditation drive people to classical concerts right about now. And there is no doubt that we are in the dead of winter; one that no matter how long it lasts already feels too long.
Whether you choose to end your year with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, begin it so, or both, the changing of your calendar will only be enriched and enlivened, no matter how empty your pockets or weary your bones. So take the time to seek refuge and reflection, because the orchestra's stimulations are the easiest way to ease into what is surely a turbulent year to come.
Milan Gagnon can be reached at