Jokes about classical music, although not to everyone’s taste, do cross international borders rather well, which may be one of the reasons behind the success of this eccentric Dutch man. The self-styled ‘godfather of comedy and music’, Hans Liberg has a following not only in his native Netherlands, but also across Austria, Germany and Belgium.
For a show about classical music, this can hardly be described as high-brow: it centres on Liberg and his grand piano, with the odd prop, such as an acoustic guitar, for added interest. His primary focus is the send up of classical music and his irreverence seeks to disperse the pretensions around it.
He shows a clear penchant for the minimalist: "too much information is not what the customer wants". This aversion to ‘too many notes’ puts him on a direct collision path with the majority of pre-1900 composers; he cleverly simplifies Mozart to become Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Brahms’ piano sonata somehow becomes Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. Chopin and Bach are given similar treatment. We’re even shown an insight into how Nokia and Vodafone ring tones came into being.
Going on in years though he may be, he still finds the energy for a quick Riverdance and his moon walk would have the King of Pop turning in his grave.
Liberg’s repertoire and flexibility are impressive and he is clearly very talented. Audience participation is actively encouraged with clapping, foot stomping and music requests; covering for all eventualities he even brings his own pre-recorded applause.
For the first hour the momentum and jokes race along but unfortunately this isn’t sustained: repeated jokes aren’t so funny the second time around and the structure fizzles away. There are some excellent sections, but we could have covered it in half the time.
By Rachel Phillips