A classical tour-de-force with a rock and roll twist

Stuart Reed was moved by the tremendous performance of Andre Rieu
Stuart Reed was moved by the tremendous performance of Andre Rieu

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IF you’re a purist classical music fan who likes orchestras solemn-faced, dressed in funereal black, playing obscure works, then maybe you should skip this column altogether.

Andre Rieu’s 2017 Maastricht concert celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fiddling Dutchman’s Johann Strauss Orchestra.

The live show was beamed to cinemas worldwide. And the Vue cinema in Eastleigh was packed with Andre’s fans who actually applauded whenever their favourite numbers were played.

This didn’t seem as weird as it sounds.

Introduced by gorgeous presenter Charlotte Hawkins, the concert was billed as ‘An unforgettable, heart-warming event, full of humour, fun and joy for all ages’.

It certainly lived up to its billing.

Andre Rieu comes from Maastricht. The big stage, set in the town’s beautiful Vrijhof Square, was a triumph of technical wizardry.

Its frequently changing backdrops chimed in with the music being played.

There were colourful Italian villages cascading down to the sea, Scottish castles reflected in tranquil lochs, magnificent chandeliers hinting at grand Viennese ballrooms, rippling waters, raging infernos and so forth.

The musicians of the Johann Strauss Orchestra ware decked out in all their finery.

The gents were in white tie and tails, the ladies in colourful crinolines.

Andre wore his usual white front and cravat held in place by a pearly brooch.

The well-rehearsed, 60 piece orchestra was on top form. Many players were in the small ensemble from the start.

Every number they played was a crowd-pleaser. Nothing was too schmaltzy for this band.

There were terrific guest artists. Two Chinese girls, Li Jing and Shao Lin, sang in perfect harmony.

The Platin Tenors, a Hungarian, New Zealander and Frenchman, were really good. They sang Verdi’s drinking song Libiamo.

Gleeful Italians in the audience waved their national flags.

There were flags from all over the globe being waved aloft as music from their countries was performed.

The central area of the square was densely packed and the cameras panned round the audience and the cafes on the perimeter picking out faces beaming with pleasure or tearful with emotion.

As the show neared its finale, fireworks flew skywards and flames belched high above the performers.

Then the centre of the stage parted and out came a black limousine carrying David Hasselhoff, the movie star, actor and producer.

Surprisingly, he’s also a really good singer.

He belted out the songs doing high kicks like Frankie Vaughan used to do.

There were eight or nine encores ending with a rock and roll finish.

It was a show to remember.