André Rieu

Waltzing Matilda

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Andre Rieu takes a few chances here and there with his approach to classical music (and massive stage shows). Not least among them must be the attempt to take on classic and decidedly non-classical Australian music. On Waltzing Matilda, in combination with Australian soprano Mirusia, he does just that, though. The album presents a handful of standards from more traditional classical territory, performed with the Johann Strauss Orchestra, and a number of more traditional Australian pieces -- the legendary "Waltzing Matilda," "Wine Women and Song," and "Home Among the Gumtrees." While it's a potentially interesting exercise, Rieu doesn't exactly take on the songs in a manner befitting their form -- this isn't Aaron Copland-style Western-themed classical music. It's simply the notation of classic Australian frontier sounds arranged for a straightforward classical interpretation -- the pieces can be nearly unrecognizable in some extremes, and entirely lose their sheen of adventure and the frontier (with the possible exception of the theme from the "Thorn Birds," which keeps a Celtic sound to it). The listening isn't bad, but it's a particularly sanitized approach to some normally rollicking numbers.