Andre Rieu is a great showman - beyond his enormous musical talent. And he has created an orchestra made up of very carefully selected musicians who are not only accomplished players of their own chosen instruments, but who also have a passion for the genre of music they perform. In addition, all of Andre's players are chosen for their conviviality, so that each and every one contributes to the "esprit de corps" and "joie de vivre" that make his a unique orchestra in our contemporary culture.
In addition to the splendid string, brass, and woodwind sections, the Johann Strauss Orchestra also includes a wide range of percussion instruments, a cymbalo, and even a concert grand piano. The piano harmonizes with the rest of the orchestra for melodic support, and yet contributes its own special luster. And while every background musician in this orchestra performs admirably, with repeated exposure it becomes apparent that the piano, flute, oboe, and bassoon players, as well as both of the percussionists, are really outstanding.
Nonetheless, after performing each piece, Andre insists that EVERY performer in his orchestra (about 50 musicians) stand up and share the thunderous applause coming from a very appreciative audience. This connection between performers and audience builds and builds until, by the time of the concert's approaching finale, some of the audience actually starts dancing in the isles, and the remainder (about 1500 patrons) gradually all stand up, link arms, and start humming along with the music while swaying side to side. This is Andre's dream come true, and even while he is still playing and conducting, his face begins to beam with great pride while watching this emotional spectacle in the audience come to life right in front of him. All in all, it is a wonderfully moving experience that can bring tears to your eyes and make your heart sing for many a day.
This DVD is a fabulous recording of a 1999 centennial celebration concert in a Vienna music hall. For anyone not familiar with the music of the Strauss family, I know of no better introduction; for the many who have already enjoyed televised Viennese concerts, this one cannot fail to at least entertain; and finally, for all those folk long in love with the Strauss Volksgarten Konzert style, this particular video recording is surely a portal to Paradise.