André Rieu

Christmas Classics

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What is the Christmas holiday all about? A brother from another planet observing supermarket and convenience-store seasonal displays in Europe or tuning in to the PBS television network in the U.S. might well conclude that it had something to do with Belgian violinist André Rieu, such is the flood of Christmas releases with his name on them that appears every year over the holiday season. It's a bit puzzling as to why Rieu, more than any other classical artist with the possible exception of Luciano Pavarotti, has seemingly lost control over the material he has recorded. Consider this collection of cheesy Christmas tunes recorded by Rieu on his violin to the accompaniment of strings and Wal-Mart-quality synthesizers. Occasionally there is a disembodied voice or a group of them -- the spectral boy soprano in the Gounod "Ave Maria," track 3, is especially disconcerting. The packaging carries not a hint as to where or when these recordings originated. Rieu is obviously a performer who can connect with an exceptionally wide audience, and that's a good thing. But the listener in search of one of Rieu's characteristic spectaculars on a Christmas theme should sample his The Christmas I Love and Christmas with André Rieu releases instead of this one.

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