Ever since Andre Rieu debuted he's always done things his way. In `Radio City Music Hall: Live in New York' Rieu's American arrival takes all that we know and love about his show and makes it fresh and memorable. Taking on the Big Apple, the Maestro fittingly does everything big. The joshing is appropriately scaled down to fit a proper venue and mood. Surely, there are some familiar pieces, like "Finiculi, Finicula," "The Blue Danube," and "Radezky's March," but he tailor fits his songs for his Broadway audience. And Broadway is well represented this time.
If New York City is America's best representation of the melting pot, then the Maestro certainly mixes his ethnic ingredients well. Italians are represented in the theme song "My Way" with a pictorial tribute fittingly enough for Frank Sinatra. "Godfather Waltz" and "Torna a Surriento" delve through these roots more thoroughly with video drawing from scenes in Tuscany.
Then, some of the happiest surprises come from guest stars, including young violinist, Akeem Camera and The Harlem Gospel Choir. Spiritual songs from "Amen," "Amazing Grace," and "I Will Follow Him" are given an exhilarating presentation. Instead of being accentuated, the choir takes front and center while the Johann Strauss Orchestra is heard in the background.
This grandeur is nearly matched by their rendition of show tunes. And what a refreshing lot we're given this time around! "The Music of the Night," easily 'Phantom of the Opera''s best song; "I'm Singing in the Rain," and "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" are all done to perfection. Wisely, he leaves the theme song to `The Titanic' behind for a whole new sound, which is honed with intricate skill.
Other highlights include the enchanting "Dance of the Fairies," "The Life of Artists," and "The Washington Post". Always partial to Sousa, even when not touring America, Rieu does "Stars and Stripes Forever," but adds a wonderful rendition of "America the Beautiful," and starts with the rousing "Seventy-six Trombones" (from `The Music Man').
Besides making it big, downplaying the hijinx, and freshening up the play list, Rieu changes the personnel this time around. In place of siren Carmen Monarcha, his own three Italian tenors join the troupe with some other fine singers. Otherwise, all the familiar orchestra faces are faithfully intact.
Andre Rieu is as much a perfectionist as he is a festive entertainer. On `Radio City Music Hall: Live in New York,' he's able to cater his music skills to thrill a highly receptive New York audience with a big night out on the town.
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