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André Rieu: The Cheesemeistro of Maastricht

Play the video. I spent a whole afternoon editing it. Now I hate myself.

In a world of White People Things this is the whitest goddamn thing you will ever see. André Rieu and his fucking orchestra is the kind of classical music beloved of your Aunty Tony and Uncle Pat who hold the Express and Mail tight and dear to their blackened shrivelled hearts. If you find the proms too hoity-toity then Andre Rieu & Friends is for you! Like Fox news keep your older parents well away from it.

Not so long ago I spoke to my mother who is 108 and she was raving about some concert she saw on TV.

“It was just lovely, heartwarming fun! I had a such a good time watching it!” She said with the kind of excitement you hear when people tell you that they’ve finally found Jesus whilst sitting on the toilet.

My mother has always been fairly fussy about what constitutes good entertainment. Especially music as she’s always been a big Leonard Cohen and Marvin Gaye fan. I trusted her judgement.

“Great!” I said. “What was it called?”

“André Rieu and his orchestra! You simply have to watch it!”

So I did. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. By the end of it I was convinced that my mother was either in the grip of a cult or had had some kind of stroke.

André Rieu is a Dutchman with a Dutch face, long foppish hair like you’d see on a bust of Mozart or Beethoven and he is always holding a violin. Though it feels it he seldom plays it for more than thirty seconds. Preferring instead to wave his Stradivarius spasmodically around in order to conduct his orchestra. Which makes him look a bit like a drunk busker being attacked by hornets.

These schlocky, derivative classical musicians seem to crop up every few years. Liberace was kind of the archetype, Lang-Lang is another, Vanessa Mae, even Pavarotti and the Three Tenors in the 1990’s to an extent. In the same way Klaus Wunderlich (whom I adore btw) made a career rejigging popular tunes into Hammond organ schmaltz for Beer Hall Polka lovers, elevator enthusiasts, and electronic music fans, these seasoned pros ham up classical pops with extra tits and flourishes.

This case the orchestra are all in costumes. Every woman is in a big shiny Anastasia princess dress dripping in diamante. Every man is in tails and a cummerbund. Or better yet national costume. At the beginning of each concert Andre and his orchestra all walk out like he’s some kind of classical music Hulk Hogan. Seriously he high fives the audience as he marches out through the crowd to the stage.

Rieu’s thing relies heavily on Strauss, pageantry, chocolate box stage art and oodles of crowd shots. This latter thing seems to be the real key to his popularity. Each concert broadcast is at least 70% reactions shots from the general public and it is utterly ridiculous. He also films them in his home town so he’s guaranteed a good reaction. I find it pretty manipulative personally, especially when they zoom in on people crying.

These people terrify me. Who brings a baby to a concert while wearing a kilt and waving a flag?
That dude is trying to take down a passenger jet.

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