André Rieu

Romantic Moments [Laserlight]

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The success of Belgian orchestra leader André Rieu has brought a host of old recordings out of the woodwork to be released on budget labels. Some are miserably executed, but others are pleasant enough to hear. This disc, although nothing on the packaging says so, consists entirely of music by Johann Strauss II. As such it is close to Rieu's roots; he started his career as a violinist who saw an opening for a group that would expand on the popular appeal of the old Viennese waltz orchestras. Most of the Strauss waltzes here, in fact, are performed with the Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra, with other conductors; Rieu's contribution apparently lies in a more or less visible violin part. Some (such as the Morgenblätter or Morning Papers waltz, track 5) have no solo violin part, leading one to wonder exactly whatRieu's involvement might have been. Probably the recordings are several decades old, but nothing in the packaging gives any indication of where or when they were made. There is a sleaze factor here, as there so often is with releases at a rock-bottom price; there is another Rieu disc called Romantic Moments, released by Polygram, and this is not the same release -- it's just trying to piggyback on the earlier title. That aside, this is a Strauss waltz release that's worth a few dollars for any Rieu fan who might want to hear it during a long commute. Indeed, the sound is rather shrill; a low-fidelity situation might be the best way to mask its excesses.

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