A Predictable Party ~ But a Gem Nonetheless
Attended: André Rieu on the Vrijthof Maastricht 2014 ~ When: July 4th
The Limburger by Ruud Maas: He has been standing on this spot for exactly the past ten years; exactly twenty years after he rose to the top position of the charts for ten weeks with his performance of a hitherto barely known waltz , which would keep him in the top ten for a year.
The success of André Rieu has since increased enormously, and his ranking amidst the world’s top performers was once again validated on Friday night by the 64 year olds impressive performance. During a concert lasting nearly 3.5 hours, he gave his Johan Strauss Orchestra, but especially his soloists, ample opportunity to excel.
The Australian singer Mirusia Louwerse’s rendition of I Belong To Me (from the musical Elisabeth) and Caro Nome (from Verdi’s Rigoletto) by Carla Maffioletti rivaled each other for the distinction of being highlight of the evening. These two voices are just about the most beautiful that have ever been heard on the Vrijthof.
Critics agree that what Rieu is doing in 2014 does not differ drastically from the format employed for the first time in 2005 at the Vrijthof. There were the customary winks, feeble jokes, shenanigans of orchestra members and almost cult-like costumes and stage sets that give a distinctive Rieu flavor to so many concerts. After all, why would you deviate from a successful formula?
The orchestra leader ‘preaches’ that the world would be very different if we all sang together, and alleges that even doctors prescribe his music because, according to them, Rieu's DVD's are the best medicine for healing. But that is perhaps taking it a bit too far. However, that the violinist with his concerts instills an appreciation for popular classical music in a large portion of the population is undeniable.
What then distinguishes the 2014 edition from that of previous years? The presence of the Belgian-Italian singer, Rocco Granata, who turned the Vrijthof into a crazy dance palace with his biggest hit, Marina, after a beautiful rendition of Buona Notte Bambino, is one such aspect. The sound of a lot of Italian music, because Rieu is bringing out a new CD – Love In Venice – is another aspect that added a distinct Venetian flavor to this Vrijthof concert. From a musical point of view the theme could have undoubtedly been further extended, just as the extensively decorated St Servaas Church and the Old Military Building could have been incorporated into the concert to a much greater extent. Musically speaking – from the tear-jerkers to the polonaise pieces everything was predictable, but the same cannot be said of the technical adeptness, which was in a class of its own.
Not withstanding the criticisms, Rieu’s celebration of ten years on the Vrijthof is a party not to be missed or you will sorely regret it. And did the absence of Andrea Bocelli and Zucchero detract from the spectacle? It is questionable whether even they could have contributed more to a brilliant evening.
Translated by Entia