If any contemporary musician merits Johann Strauss' moniker, "The Waltz King," it is assuredly the indefatigable André Rieu, whose scintillating concerts have delighted audiences around the world. Forever Vienna, Rieu's 2010 release on Decca, is a representative sampler of his lively repertoire, and the violinist/conductor and his Johann Strauss Orchestra present a jovial mix of medleys and popular waltzes by the Strausses, Franz Lehár, Dmitry Shostakovich, and other composers whose dances have become familiar light classical fare. Most of the arrangements are Rieu's, and they display his characteristic whimsy and splashy orchestration, sometimes featuring a prominent violin part for himself, but often highlighting other musicians in enviable solos. The medleys are perhaps the most surprising and clever offerings, for Rieu occasionally inserts references to masterpieces that are far from the ballroom floor: the opening horn call from Bruckner's Fourth is a quirky way to open Danube Love Medley, a potpourri of waltzes, and who would expect Rossini's William Tell Overture or Suppé's Light Cavalry in the high-spirited Strauss Party? But as unexpected as these quotations are, they always work because of the music's buoyant humor and Rieu's charming way of letting his audience in on the jokes. The sound of these recordings is full, warm, and effervescent, and the evenness of volume over the tracks allows a comfortable home listening experience.~Blair Sanderson
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