In partnership with

André Rieu - You Raise Me Up

2010-07-02 07:46
You Raise Me Up

Come again? Yep, according to Billboard Magazine, only Madonna, Tina Turner and Britney Spears made more cash at their live concerts during 2009.

So what the hell is his secret? Well, Rieu's own explanation on his official website speaks volumes:

You know that solemn atmosphere you find in the concert hall with classical music, and how it intimidates most people and keeps them away? With us, it is simply not there. My orchestra consists of young, enthusiastic musicians, who put their heart and soul into the music every evening when they play in our concerts. At one of our concerts you'll see me and the orchestra, and the audience too, all having a lot of fun together. Swaying with the music, humming along, clapping, jumping up and down - it all happens! Every evening is a wonderful experience, and in my view there couldn't be a greater pleasure for a musician.

Thumbs up André, there's nothing wrong with having fun when it comes to classical music. And if his idea of getting us hooked on classics is more schmaltzy Mantovani schlagermusik* than Mahler sturm und drang, then good for him.

Like countless classical pop crossover kings including Richard Clayderman and Josh Groban before him, André knows exactly who his bread is buttered by: married women looking for a bit of romance after sharing a tasty Baked Barramundi with breadcrumb and herb coating in a creamy white wine sauce with their significant other on Mother's Day. This isn't a piss take either. You can find this mouth-watering recipe and many more of André's own favourite appetisers on his official website .

No surprises then that this latest easy listening soufflé baked with his legendary "Johann Strauss Orchestra" is a romantic selection of hooked on classical pop covers and timeless movie magic tunes tailored towards…mothers!

The opening title track sets the heartstring-tugging pace with Rieu's 1732 Stradivarius milking every ounce of sentimentality out of the hit that Josh Groban serenaded Oprah Winfrey with on her 50th birthday. Who cares if his solo is accomplished rather than especially virtuoso? Rieu isn’t interested in "Hendrixing up" the violin a la ageing classical punk Nigel Kennedy. He just wants his listeners to have a party.

And we do. His pastoral pop reading of Johann Strauss's waltz "Roses from the South", the symphonic pop waltz "Carnival of Venice" and Neapolitan classical pop corker "Chianti Song" are all joyously airy invitations to langarm. Pick of the frolicking pack is an unapologetically prancing rendition of Mary Poppins' "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" featuring Aussie born soprano soloist Mirusia Louwerse. She's not Julie Andrews, but Rieu's nursery rhyme arrangement is comfortably cartoonish.

The menu isn't a minefield of totally over-the-top telegraphed emotions either. The Platin Tenors add just the requisite dose of lovelorn gravitas to "Dark Roses" (from Gasparone). Roger Diederen delivers a haunting trumpet solo on Nini Rosso's sombre "Il Silenzio". And Brazilian-born soprano Carmen Monarcha spotlights the hope flickering beneath the suicidal sentiments of Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns".

Sure, it's difficult to find any real nuance beneath downright lavish arrangements of a Les Miserables show stopper ("I Dreamed a Dream”), a timeless chanson ("Autumn Leaves"), a Chopin nocturne ("There is a song in me") and a Neapolitan Broadway ballad hymn to mothers everywhere ("Mama" featuring the Platin Tenors). But Rieu's success pivots on the fact that when he sacrifices subtlety for spectacle, he always does so without turning the original repertoire into mere mood muzak.

* "Schlager (German Schlager, loosely translated as a "hit") is a style of popular music that is prevalent in Central and Northern Europe, in particular Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia, but also to a lesser extent in France, the Baltic States and Poland. Typical schlager tracks are either sweet, highly sentimental ballads with a simple, catchy melody or light pop tunes. Lyrics typically center on love, relationships and feelings." (Wikipedia)
Ever wonder who the best-selling male solo live touring artist in the world is? Hip-hop's heavyweight champion Jay-Z? How about His Purple Majesty: Prince, surely? Or British pop showman Robbie Williams, maybe? What about SA born melodic rock favourite Dave Matthews? Nope. It's 60 year-old violin wielding Dutch 'King of the Waltzes', André Rieu.

What to read next: Kalahari

Preshen Govender 2010/06/29 4:42 PM
It should be a song for Viagra
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.