Pros: If you're feeling mopey, you won't after you finish playing this recording.
Cons: Just a few songs that didn't belong in this otherwise fabulous grouping.
I acquired this recording when making a pledge during one of PBS' many pledge drives and I was absent-mindedly watching Andre Rieu perform at Radio City Music Hall. Radio City is my favorite entertainment place in New York City. I'm really not of fan of Rieu as he is a bit schmaltzy for my taste but in case you aren't familiar with him, he has a personality like Lawrence Welk and Liberace combined. Besides his talents, this program also showcased the Harlem Gospel Choir. I enjoy Gospel music on occasion and I also have a tape of Linda Ronstadt with gospel singers.
The cover doesn't give much information but I did a little research on the Internet. Andre performs all over the world in concert and is a Dutch conductor/violinist/composer born in Maastricht, Holland. His instrument of choice is a 1667 Stradivarius. In showbiz, he is known as the "Waltz King." Rieu's recorded music and live performances have been a cause of controversy in the music and popular press. That doesn't seem to hurt his popularity however. He speaks Dutch, English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.
The Music of the Night
Whiter Shade of Pale
Torna a Surriento
I Will Follow Him
Amigos Para Siempre
The Washington Post
Don't Cry for Me Argentina
America the Beautiful
The Stars and Stripes Forever
BONUS FOR PBS FOLKS (Premium Edition)
Oh, Happy Day
I think the intention was for the violin playing in this version of Sinatra's famous song to tug at your heart strings. Instead it's just too syrupy and sappy.
I don't care for this rendition of the now very famous melody. As we all know, it's from the movie, "The Godfather" which is about an Italian family right? Well, somehow this rendition sounds more like it was written for a Jewish family. I think the musicians really wanted to play "Hava Nagila."
THE MUSIC OF THE NIGHT
Is there anybody who doesn't know that this song comes from "Phantom of the Opera"? I love the see-saw notes in this song and I love that it needs someone who can really sing to do it justice. You need to have a good range to accomplish it and I doubt that any singer not worth his/her salt would attempt it. But you don't have to worry about that in this version as Rieu plays the song beautifully.
Carla Mattioletti and Akim Camara are the singers doing a duet. It's very pretty and gives me goose bumps.
A WHITER SHADE OF PALE
You've all heard this song before and this rendition is very nice, lots of violins, angelic singing, and organ music, crescendoing with horns. I felt like I was in church.
TORNA A SURRIENTO
Tenor Die Platin croons this famous Italian song. I have another version of it on an all Italian CD. Mr. Platin is joined by someone else who is not included in the credits and they do a duet of it. I got goose bumps from this one too. If you heard it, you would recognize it. The title means Return to Sorrento, a city that overlooks the Bay of Naples, Italy.
This is from "Casanova" and the singers are Celine Saleh and the Harlem Gospel Choir. I never heard of Celine before but she has a beautiful voice. More goosebumps as she hits the high notes.
I WILL FOLLOW HIM
This starts out with singers doing an opera version but then transitions to the upbeat version that we're all familiar with.
I can only think of one person singing this song and that's Ethel Merman who, by the way, graduated from my high school, William Cullen Bryant H.S. The orchestra does a rousing rendition and I dare you to sit still listening to it. In case you're wondering, the song is from the play, "The Music Man."
AMIGOS PARA SIEMPRE
Singers: Suzan Erens, Carla Mattioletti, Celine Saleh, Die Platin and the Harlem Gospel Choir. Violins, castanets, and duets will have you humming and singing this in no time. It's a pretty melody with a BIG finish that was probably rocking the walls. It's another one that gives me goose bumps. The more I play it, the more I want to play it. As soon as I learn the words, I'll be singing it around the house.
THE WASHINGTON POST
A rousing marching music song.
Yes, this is a Yackety Sak tune with a goofy circus quality added to it. It highlights the skills of the saxophone player. Too bad he isn't on the credits. It does say "Benny Hill" theme on the cover though.
DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA
This song is the reason I pledged during this part of the pledge drive. I have always been hooked on this song and the pledge drive was my opportunity to own a copy. I don't know why this song gets to me, it just does. The pretty voice singing is Suzan Erens. This is the only song on the album that isn't short; rather it is long. I got the full treatment and feel like I got my money's worth.
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL
Played by Rieu and played too sappily for my tastes.
THE STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER
I think there is only one rendition of this song. Why mess with perfection? It's good to march to just don't march to the refrigerator.
AMEN and OH, HAPPY DAY are sung by the Harlem Gospel Choir. It's hard not to sing along.
AMAZING GRACE is a gorgeous version with flutes and bagpipes making it sound like an Irish or Celtic song.
One thing I noticed about this music is that all the tracks are short except for the one I mentioned above. This is probably so that Rieu can squeeze as many songs into a concert performance as possible. That doesn't seem to bother his audience who is very, very appreciative in their applause. This is nice to have around if you like show tunes, patriotic marches, pop tunes, gospel, opera, and classical music.