Either scroll through the list to composer you are interested in, or just use the links below to go directly to the composer’s name. Then scroll to the composition you are interested in. The happy face of Spring comes to the world. The army of Winter, conquered, is now put to flight. In gay clothes Flora rules, and she is praised by the sweet sound of the woods. Stretched out in the lap of Flora Phoebus in his new way laughs – she is now covered with these gay flowers. Zephyrus goes blowing the scent of nectar.
In competition for the prize let us run in the race of love. Sweet Philomela accompanies her song with the lyre. André Rieu performs in his Sydney Town Hall performance. Disclosure statement David Larkin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. University of Sydney provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU. The phenomenon that is André Rieu was in Sydney last week, an event which gave rise to strong feelings pro and contra. Among musicians, his slick entertainments are at best grudgingly recognised as savvy market-orientated products, at worst despised as shameless pandering to a low common denominator.
Among the general public, his name-recognition is sufficiently high to pack out the 8,000-seater hall at the International Convention Centre for two consecutive nights. There was an atmosphere of palpable pleasure on Wednesday evening as the crowd laughed and applauded for over two and a half hours. Are these two views at all reconcilable? As a classical-music reviewer who only knew of Rieu as the butt of snooty dismissals, I thought it worth seeing for myself what all the fuss was about. This group has produced a vast discography of audio and video recordings and regularly tours the world, with both concerts and recordings meeting with enormous commercial success. One could not ignore the intense marketing both before and during the event. His website does not merely offer tickets and DVDs, it sells entire tour-packages, and a similar range of products was advertised on the screens in the interval.
Classical musicians from Liberace to Vanessa Mae who cross this boundary risk their reputations as serious musicians. A rare instance of someone whose reputation survived was Placido Domingo, a bona fide opera star before and after becoming a world-wide sensation as part of the original Three Tenors. Certain classical works or excerpts have become enormously popular, and favourites such as Handel’s Hallelujah chorus, Orff’s O fortuna from Carmina Burana, and Verdi’s drinking song Libiamo from La Traviata all featured on Wednesday’s program. The rest of the program included a mixture of light classics, pop arrangements, folk tunes and Christmas-themed numbers. The Johann Strausses, father and son, were represented by the Radetzky March and the Blue Danube Waltz respectively. Little Richard’s Tutti frutti softened the classical focus, while the likes of Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and O Holy Night provided the aural counterpart to the snowy fir trees and tinsel-decorated music stands. More than music At Rieu’s gigs, it’s clearly about more than the music. The visual plays an important element, from the sight of Rieu and his musicians prancing through the crowd and up on to the stage at the start, to the costumes and the vast screen behind the orchestra displaying imagery appropriate to each song.
For White Christmas, fake snow fell on to some of those sitting in rows near the stage. And always the immaculately coiffed Dutchman with his antique shirt-front took centre stage, charming the crowd with his accented English as he introduced the next piece or provided his reflections on world peace and what he would do were he prime minister of Australia, neither of which have lingered in the memory. Consequently, I was expecting to hear a few solo numbers such as he has recorded in the past. In fact, whenever he played on Wednesday, he merely doubled the orchestral violins. More often, instrument and bow were tucked in his left hand as he conducted his band. My sharp-eyed concert companion spotted that, alone among the orchestra, his instrument didn’t have a pick-up mic, leading one to wonder whether he would be at all audible beyond the front rows. Clearly it does not matter to his public that they get to see Rieu the impresario rather than the virtuoso. His general charisma and not his playing seems to be what counts.