Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of.
Week of 11/14/2014
WHO: André Rieu and His Johann Strauss Orchestra
WHAT: Love In Venice
What's this? A classical music album breaking into the Billboard 200 near the end of November without a Christmas standard to be seen? We'll take it!
Of course, some of our more snobbish readers might be less excited by the news. André Rieu is noted, and in some circle notorious, for the brand of orchestral music that fills concert halls with the riffraff who don't read The New Yorker (or ClassicalLite.com, our sister site). We're on the side of the people here-although we appreciate the expertise of those who read deep in to catalogues of more obscure composers and performers, we're all for whatever can draw current audiences to orchestral music. And Rieu is no schlub: Much like how Dr. Oz is actually one of the world's best heart surgeons, the Dutch violinist is also an extremely talented musician who just happens to make more money than your typical virtuoso thanks to his more pop-minded performances.
Indeed Love In Venice will cause the rolling of eyes for those who regularly consume more artfully minded compositions, but features enough recognizable Italian standards-transformed into shinier orchestral waltzes and the sort-for your parents and grandparents to listen comfortably to (we imagine this album was aimed at the Christmas shopper...despite the subject matter).
Still, we have to sigh at the inclusion of "That's Amore"...Rieu has enough music on this disc that he didn't need to fall back on the faux-Italian Dean Martin classic.