André Rieu

Classic Album Selection

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The international success of Dutch orchestra leader André Rieu has led to a wide variety of reissues of his large back catalog. Few of them are what they promise to be, but many are worth the time of Rieu fans, who may not have the wherewithal to acquire the New Waltz King's complete output at list price. This one, issued by Universal in 2013, is typical of the genre. You might divide Rieu's output into three phases: the semi-popular, the audience-interactive live releases of his early years, the full-scale productions of waltzes and related music that made his reputation, and the massively produced extravagazas that have accompanied the growth in the Rieu phenomenon since about the mid-2000s. The five albums packaged together here fall into the middle group. They were released between 1995 and 2003, and the latest of them, Romantic Paradise, clearly pointed to the way things were going with its inclusion of such external-to-the-tradition items as the Love Theme to The Godfather. Over the course of the set, the string phrasing gets a bit more stretched out and sentimental, the approach more mannered. Rieu is still at his best in celebratory items like Das Jahrtausendfest (The Millennium Festival) and in live performances such as those included on the André Rieu in Concert album. This is not really a "classic album selection," and those who own earlier copies will get nothing new; in fact, each album in the five-CD set is packaged in a duofold whose interior is half blank. There are no notes or credits of any kind included, and worse, one or two of the albums seem to be incomplete (perhaps they were released in different versions in different places). Nevertheless, this is a lot of Rieu for a low price, from what has arguably been the prime of his career.

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