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Whatever happened to Andre Previn?


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Author Topic: Whatever happened to Andre Previn?  (Read 305 times)
Dundonnell
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« on: October 14, 2015, 12:32:01 am »

The BBC broadcast a documentary the other night on "Andre Previn at the BBC". It reminded me what an enormous impact Previn made during his time at the London Symphony Orchestra in bringing music to a huge audience through the medium of television.

But much more than that...these were golden years for both Previn and the LSO (1968-1979). He made a series of recordings of quite astonishing brilliance-of the music of Rachmaninov, Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Walton, amongst others. There are those who believe that Previn's recordings of many of the RVW symphonies of the two Walton symphonies have never been bettered.

Previn had been Principal Conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra for a year before he came to the LSO (he stayed in Houston for two years). In 1976 he became Principal Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and remained there until 1984. In 1985 Previn took over both the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1985-90) and the Royal Philharmonic in London (1985-92) and was in charge of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra from 2002 until 2006.

Conductors are generally believed to get better with aqe and there are countless cases to exemplify this assertion. Yet Previn seems never to have recaptured the flair or inspiration of the 1970s. Was he unlucky with the orchestras he took over or is there some other explanation Huh There seem certainly to have been fewer recordings and very few if any recapture the blazing intensity of those golden years.

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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2015, 08:52:47 am »

Although it's not really an answer to the questions you raise, Norman Lebrecht's (frequently fact-wobbly) blog Slipped Disk had a feature about Previn today:

http://slippedisc.com/2015/10/andre-previn-my-problem-is-i-just-dont-rewrite/

Quite apart from his work on the concert platform, Previn is probably best-known as one of the generation of "expert explainers" of the late 1960s and 1970s - true experts in their field who were ready to share their expertise with the public, in a non-patronising way. They realised the potential the medium of television had in reaching-out to new audiences, who were keen to know more... provided it wasn't presented in the "Auntie knows best" castor-oil style that had gone before Wink

Probably the earliest pioneer in this way of presenting provoking ideas about culture was the legendary John Berger  ("Ways Of Seeing"). If nothing else, Previn picked up Berger's idea of colourfully outrageous fashion shirts (!) for the LSO Smiley

Worth remembering too that Previn has always maintained his highly-respected parallel jazz career.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2015, 03:35:28 pm »

I cannot understand those who wrote in the link that Previn was not a great conductor. Perhaps he has not demonstrated his abilities much over the past 30 years or so-and that was the point I was trying to make-but his recordings of Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, RVW and Walton in the 1970s were breathtakingly good.

BBC has broadcast another documentary "Bernstein at the BBC". The contrast is very noticeable. Bernstein was electrifying as a young conductor but matured as he got older and was able to combine excitement with a deeper insight. Of course his interpretations-particularly of the 19th century classical repertoire-could be controversial but there was never any doubting his charisma or his passion for the music he conducted. And..of course..he did not neglect American composers like William Schuman or David Diamond-now almost totally ignored by most of his successors Sad
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dhibbard
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2017, 04:35:36 pm »

http://www.andre-previn.com/
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BrianA
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2017, 03:11:18 am »

It may be worth noting in this context that Previn's recording of the Tchaikovsky ballets, my go-to performances back in LP days, have just (well, maybe not "just", but at least just discovered by me) been reissued. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01GQWSWGO/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE

I think I'll grab this one myself.

Brian
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cjvinthechair
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2017, 06:04:42 pm »

Well, like so many conductors, he also put together a decent composition, and from the 'Diversions for orchestra', premiered in 2000, onwards, he's put out some very listenable classical work (wouldn't be able to comment on any jazz compositions over that period).
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Clive

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