At the end of the year, the Berliner Philharmoniker traditionally leave Johann Strauss and Viennese waltzes to their philharmonic colleagues in the Austrian capital. This however does not mean that the Berlin New Year’s Eve concert did not put the audience in the mood for dancing. On this occasion, works by Dvořák, Khachaturian and Hindemith were on the programme, with dances of Slavic, Armenian-Soviet, and somewhat brooding German variants.
Not only the audience was enthralled by the magnificent sounds and rhythmic energy of the Berliner Philharmoniker under its chief conductor Simon Rattle: The critic of RBB-Kulturradio called the delicately flavoured series of symphonic dances “incredibly zestful and well served”.
Dvořák’s dances, four of which were to be heard in this concert, reveal the influence of the earlier waltzes of Johannes Brahms and yet are unmistakably Dvořák through the Czech composer’s use of Slavic rhythms and melodic ingenuity. And then there was Aram Khachaturian’s Gayaneh suite. This music has had a special relationship with the home town of the Philharmoniker ever since Billy Wilder made fun of both Coca-Cola capitalists and soviet-loyal East German communists in his Cold War comedy set in Berlin One, Two, Three to the sounds of the Sabre Dance.