It came as a surprise to me to find this album in my local second-hand store. Released in 1988, the same year as Sandra's Into a Secret Land, it was a project where Michael Cretu teamed up with a singer called Tissy Theirs. The familiar musicians used throughout Sandra's albums are gone; instead there is Simon Phillips & Curt Cress on drums, Peter Weihe on guitars, and even the London Gospel Center Choir on one track!
The style of Belle Epoque is one of European pop/rock. However, I wouldn't consider it to be as apparent as on Sandra's albums. The majority of the tracks are upbeat songs, with Mona Lisa standing out as the best track on the album, and Captain Right & Crazy Life being other good tracks. There are also two slower songs (Waterfall and Snowin' Under my Skin) which also hold up well. Overall the tracks bring together a nice blend of melody and instrumentation without being repetitive. It can take some time to become comfortable with Tissy Thiers' unique voice, but once comfortable with it you find he adds emotion to the tracks.
Michael Cretu's involvement in this album is both as keyboardist and producer. Some of his trademark sounds and styles are dotted across some tracks, particular in Mona Lisa and Waterfall where he uses the shakira (sp?) which became the trademark sound in MCMXC a.D.. However, the one used in this album does not sound the same as he eventually used in 1990. In this album I feel he has done an exceptional job of raising the emotions of the tracks at the right spot, often by choosing the right instruments and samples.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this album and recommend it to any Sandra or Enigma fan; Sandra fans will love the European rock/pop style with the male edge, and Enigma fans will love the use of instrumentation and mixing which Michael Cretu does so well.