It’s more or less a tradition in the ten years of the Theater-an-der-Wien that the season opens with a concert, and more or less a tradition that that concert is played by the Vienna Philharmonic – even if this year’s concert was preceded by the world premiere of Arno Schreier’s Hamlet. (Forbes review here.) It is decidedly not a tradition, and certainly not one for the Vienna Philharmonic, that it was a concert of baroque music. Nor is it a tradition for the Vienna Philharmonic to be led by a woman conductor. (A French female woman, even, as a gender-, nationalism- and click-baiting hack like Norman Lebrecht might take pains to point out.)
An thus the audience in the not-entirely-filled house (and with most of the journalists away, covering a Ralph Benatzky operetta at the Volksoper) experienced an unusual sight: The Vienna Philharmonic on stage with two harpsichords, a continuo organ, and a theorbo (a HIP trope that instrument; a symbol more than a sign of authenticity and in any case inaudible in the entire first half). Unusual and in a way typical for the Theater-an-der-Wien, which likenexts to think outside the box. Emmanuelle Haïm, the third woman to ever conduct the Vienna Philharmonic (or at least a small, baroque-ensemble sized section thereof), had conducted the same George Frideric Handel program at the Lucerne Festival and repeated it here: A first half of orchestral works and the solo cantata Il delirio amoroso (HWV 99) in the second half.
Full review here:
Emmanuelle Haïm Can 'Handel' The Vienna Philharmonic