Thursday, February 28, 2019

This is what I will remember André Previn for


André Previn has died at the age of 89. There will doubtless be fulsome tributes elsewhere stressing his Hollywood connection, marriage to Mia Farrow and TV celebrity status. To these I would like to add a personal memory. When I worked for EMI's International Classical Division in the 1980s André Previn was one of our major artists and his recordings were produced by my colleague and dear friend Christopher Bishop. One of the many great products of this extraordinarily productive partnership was the uncut version of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony recorded in the Kingsway Hall in 1973. This was something of a calling card for Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra, and had been performed by them in Moscow and Leningrad in their pioneering 1971 tour of Russia and the Far East.

Rach 2 remained a staple of Previn's repertoire and more than a decade later I attended a performance in Croydon's Fairfield Halls. The venue had outstanding acoustics, but Croydon on a bleak English Saturday evening is certainly not Los Angleles. Despite this the LSO played their hearts out for Previn and the symphony once again brought the house down. The Green Room of the Fairfield Halls is not the sort of place A List celebrities hang out and when I went there with my wife to glad-hand André there were no hangers-on, just one of his young sons smartly dressed in school uniform. André Previn certainly achieved celebrity status; but for him it was the music above all that mattered, whether it was being made in the City of Angels or a dreary London suburb. That is what I will remember him for.

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3 comments:

nobleviola said...

I had the great pleasure to sit in on a dress rehearsal of Rachmaninoff's 2nd Symphony with Previn and the Boston Symphony when I was a fellow at Tanglewood Music Center. The orchestra had such nice things to say about him - which is pretty remarkable for the BSO!

mathias broucek said...

Great story- thanks for sharing

kenpat said...

It's good to know that he appears to be as nice as he always seemed with no airs and graces.