Anyone who has visited Vienna--and particularly anyone who has attended a concert in the splendid Musikverein Concert Hall--is likely to find Salute to Vienna: A Strauss-Gershwin Gala
irresistible. Its special Viennese charm begins with the opening shots of a horse-drawn carriage entering a courtyard and the famous statue of Johann Strauss Jr. playing his violin (which is played by Peter Guth in this concert). The DVD is at its best when it focuses on the spectacle of the Viennese--musicians and audience alike--enjoying their city's distinctive light music: Martina Serafin sipping champagne and becoming progressively more silly in the "Annen Polka"; Eva Lind exulting in the sheer melodic glory of "Voices of Spring"; a percussionist deliberately ignoring the cue for a cuckoo sound effect in the "Im Krapfenwald!" polka; the Vienna Choir Boys in the "Chit Chat Polka"; and the whole audience clapping in unison to the rhythms of the "Radetzky March." The sense of joy is pervasive and infectious.
The Viennese musicians are joined by American colleagues in this program, which includes music of George Gershwin and Aaron Copland as well as the Strauss family and Franz Lehar. Gregory Peck's spoken segments, as host and as narrator in Copland's Lincoln Portrait, may lose their charm over repeated viewings while the waltzes and polkas continue to enchant. But the American- Austrian partnership works superbly: the Boys Choir of Harlem joins the Vienna Choir Boys in "The Blue Danube," there is a spectacular crossover in Georg Lehner's Viennese interpretation of "It Ain't Necessarily So," and Elizabeth Norman is exactly right in "Summertime." --Joe McLellan
Now, for the first time on DVD, experience this exclusive, one-time only Salute to Vienna gala concert, featuring exuberant favorites by Strauss and Gershwin, as well as the music of Lehar and Copeland, performed by some of Europe's leading singers and musicians! This memorable event, hosted by legendary Academy Award winning actor Gregory Peck, also includes the historic world-premiere paring of the Vienna Boys' Choir and the Boys Choir of Harlem, as well as Peck's own show-stopping performance of the "Finale" from Copland's Lincoln Portrait.