Musings & Thoughts for Friday, December 3, 2021, or: On Waltzes, Jets, Sharks, Blu-rays, and Needed Repose

(C) 2020 Sony Classical/ORF

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s mid- to late morning here in Lithia, Florida on Friday, December 3, 2021. It’s a chilly morning. The current temperature is 57˚F (14˚C) under partly sunny skies. There is a dense fog advisory. With the wind blowing from the north-northeast at 1 MPH (1 KM/H) and humidity at 94%, the wind-chill factor is 55˚F (14˚C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 75˚F (24˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies and a low of 51˚F (11˚C).

My Blu-ray copy of Neujahrskonzert 2020 / New Year’s Concert 2020 arrived yesterday at 6:14 PM Eastern. It’s a nicely done presentation of a concert performed on January 1, 2020 by the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic) under the baton of conductor Andris Nelsons. Released in March of 2020 by Sony Classical, Neujahrskonzert 2020 / New Year’s Concert 2020 showcases:

  • 15 compositions by various composers, including waltzes and marches written by several members of the Strauss musical family
  • 4 encores (Zugaben), including An der schönen blauen Donau (On the Beautiful Blue Danube) and Radetzky-Marsch by Johann Strauss II.
  • Bonus features: Beethoven – The Lost Music and 2 Complete Ballet Sequences

Because Neujahrskonzert 2020 / New Year’s Concert 2020 arrived later than Amazon’s original estimate of between 3 and 5 PM, and because the concert is 2 hours and 39 minutes long, I decided to skip ahead to the Encores/Zugaben and watched the sequence with The Blue Danube waltz. After all, that’s the composition I most wanted to get Neujahrskonzert 2020 / New Year’s Concert 2020 for in the first place, so…I cut to the chase and watched it on my 4K UHD TV.

Yep. This clip appears in Neujahrskonzert 2020 / New Year’s Concert 2020.

Interestingly, Neujahrskonzert 2020 / New Year’s Concert 2020  features the same orchestra (Vienna Philharmonic) and venue (Golden Hall of the Musikverein) that performed – a few days later, in fact – a special concert featuring the film music by John Williams that was recorded on film and audio for Deutsche Grammophon’s John Williams in Vienna – Deluxe Blu-ray & CD set. So now I have two visual representations of two different concerts performed by the same orchestra – under two different conductors – in the same concert hall, filmed only a few days apart for two different record labels (Sony Classical and Deutsche Grammophon).

In other news, after I watched that segment from Neujahrskonzert 2020 / New Year’s Concert 2020, I decided to see if Amazon had the Blu-ray of the Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins version of 1961’s West Side Story at an affordable price. I have the Collector’s Edition on DVD, having bought it years ago for my mother as a gift; after she died, I added it to my DVD collection after briefly considering giving it to my half-sister and thinking better of it.

I don’t need the Blu-ray version per se, but since 1080p high-definition video looks far better than the standard definition DVD video, I checked to see if I could get West Side Story on Blu with some of my eligible credit cards’ reward program points. I also wanted to see if, after Stephen Sondheim’s recent death[1] and with the release of Steven Spielberg’s remake only a week away, I could even find a Blu-ray edition of the 1961 Oscar-winning musical.

Lo and behold, I got lucky and found several iterations of the 2011 50th Anniversary Blu-ray. I chose the made-for-Canada “bilingual” 3-disc edition, which comes with two Blu-rays (I’m assuming one has the feature film, while the other one has the bonus features) and the DVD with the feature film. The price? $12.99, but since I used $7.51 worth of reward points on one of my eligible cards, I only ended up with a $6.45 credit card bill.

I read in that the 2011 Blu-ray of West Side Story has a few flaws – 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment was handling home media releases for MGM then, and it screwed up a few visual things (mainly by adding a fade-out/fade-in at the end of the Saul Bass-designed main title animation that is not supposed to be there); Fox had to belatedly send out replacement discs after making a quick fix to that error in editing, but who knows if my copy will have the original Blu or a later disc.

Well, we’ll find out tomorrow. Amazon says my copy shipped at 5:42 AM so it is not likely that West Side Story will be here today. It would literally have to come from a warehouse in Lakeland or Orlando in order to arrive by 8 PM today. I don’t believe that’s the case with my “bilingual edition” made for the Canadian home media market.

I seriously need to adjust my routine, Dear Reader, by taking long breaks from sitting at my desk and staring at a computer monitor for hours on end. Yesterday I was so sore – especially around my neck and shoulders –  when I got up to retrieve my Neujahrskonzert 2020 / New Year’s Concert 2020 Blu-ray from the front porch that I winced and said “Ow!” aloud. (Thankfully I was by myself and no one heard it.)

It’s a clear case of mea culpa, folks. I know better than to sit at my desk for too-long stretches without getting up and moving around. But since I don’t really have friends here and I’m still only one-third vaccinated, I don’t feel comfortable going out for walks outside, especially since I live in a deeply-red section of the Tampa Bay area in a state where the general attitude about COVID-19 is “screw masks, screw vaccines” and our governor has earned the nickname “Ron Death Santis” for his public opposition to dealing with the pandemic based on science instead of conservative ideology.

So as soon as I publish this blog post, I’ll be up and about and taking a long-needed break from the computer. I will be back – I need to feel connected to my friends online, so I am reluctant to take the entire day off – but not for a few hours.

And with that, Dear Reader, I will sign off for now. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.   

[1] When a famous creative – be it a beloved actor or a famous director – dies, fans often rush to Amazon and other retailers to buy Blu-rays or DVDs of their movies, often in such large numbers that many titles are temporarily out of stock. I noticed the phenomenon for the first time after Robin Williams committed suicide in the summer of 2014. You couldn’t even get Hook, one of Steven Spielberg’s rare box office bombs, because Williams co-starred with Dustin Hoffman in that one. It took almost a week before I was able to buy a Robin Williams film; I ended up getting Good Morning, Vietnam.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

2 thoughts on “Musings & Thoughts for Friday, December 3, 2021, or: On Waltzes, Jets, Sharks, Blu-rays, and Needed Repose

  1. That concert sounds good. Have you heard of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra? I like their Christmas Stuff. I have mixed feelings about West Side Story. I don’t like remakes, but I thought the original movie was poorly done. Years ago I met my boyfriend who played a Jet in our community’s production of West Side. I finally got over him, but I’ll always remember that time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am definitely looking forward to this Spielberg version.

      First, I heard that it’s closer to the 1957 show than the 1961 film. And the kids are more age appropriate than the ones in the Wise-Robbins movie. (Plus it’s Spielberg film!)

      As for the Trans Siberian Orchestra. I think I heard a performance of theirs on the radio or a record at a party once. I obviously know of the TSO, but I can’t say definitely that I can remember the performance.


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