André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

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CharmNewton
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André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by CharmNewton » Sun Mar 07, 2021 8:40 pm

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Finally. Hopefully DG and Telarc will be following soon. Due April 23rd.

John

Lance
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by Lance » Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:25 pm

I think I will pass on this one. I have around 115 of his recordings on CD on myriad labels: Telarc, Sony, Decca, DGG, EMI, Philips, RCA, and a few lesser labels. I admire him as a pianist and conductor; he was an highly gifted artist. Somewhere, however, I have to draw the line.
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maestrob
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by maestrob » Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:15 pm

Yes, John, thank you for the alert from me as well! I think that Previn's many recordings for both EMI and RCA represented him at his best, and I have so many of them in my library by now that I will have to do some heavy research before even thinking about ordering this very welcome box.

That said, I obviously don't have as much as Lance does, so I will give this some very serious consideration.

Interestingly, Sony did just offer the 54CD box pictured below in 2018, but it has quickly gone out of print, much to my chagrin, as I wasn't aware of it at the time. :oops:

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CharmNewton
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by CharmNewton » Tue Mar 09, 2021 10:21 pm

maestrob wrote:
Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:15 pm
Yes, John, thank you for the alert from me as well! I think that Previn's many recordings for both EMI and RCA represented him at his best, and I have so many of them in my library by now that I will have to do some heavy research before even thinking about ordering this very welcome box.

That said, I obviously don't have as much as Lance does, so I will give this some very serious consideration.

Interestingly, Sony did just offer the 54CD box pictured below in 2018, but it has quickly gone out of print, much to my chagrin, as I wasn't aware of it at the time. :oops:

I've been putting the pennies in the piggy bank for the Warner set for some time now. I feel that Previn maintained a very high standard in his music making throughout his long life, comparable and just as satisfying as the larger-than-life figures who preceded him and whose shoulders he stood upon, in particular those of Pierre Monteux.

I only saw Previn in concert once when he visited Chicago with the Pittsburgh Symphony. The major work on the program was Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5. I still remember the tremendous climax that concluded the First Movement. He had earlier came to conduct the Chicago Symphony in music of Shostakovich, but that proved to be an impossible ticket to get (the two recordings he made in Chicago of the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies are included in this set).

John

maestrob
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by maestrob » Wed Mar 10, 2021 8:43 am

CharmNewton wrote:
Tue Mar 09, 2021 10:21 pm
maestrob wrote:
Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:15 pm
Yes, John, thank you for the alert from me as well! I think that Previn's many recordings for both EMI and RCA represented him at his best, and I have so many of them in my library by now that I will have to do some heavy research before even thinking about ordering this very welcome box.

That said, I obviously don't have as much as Lance does, so I will give this some very serious consideration.

Interestingly, Sony did just offer the 54CD box pictured below in 2018, but it has quickly gone out of print, much to my chagrin, as I wasn't aware of it at the time. :oops:

I've been putting the pennies in the piggy bank for the Warner set for some time now. I feel that Previn maintained a very high standard in his music making throughout his long life, comparable and just as satisfying as the larger-than-life figures who preceded him and whose shoulders he stood upon, in particular those of Pierre Monteux.

I only saw Previn in concert once when he visited Chicago with the Pittsburgh Symphony. The major work on the program was Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5. I still remember the tremendous climax that concluded the First Movement. He had earlier came to conduct the Chicago Symphony in music of Shostakovich, but that proved to be an impossible ticket to get (the two recordings he made in Chicago of the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies are included in this set).

John
Good morning, John! :D

Just checked and, although I have his Shostakovich, which is really excellent, I still give the edge to Bernstein's recordings of the Fifth, both the 1959 for Columbia, and the digital one that was issued both on DVD and CD from a concert in Tokyo in, IIRC, 1979. I'm really glad to have both, actually. I also think Previn and Ormandy are both superb in #13 (I was in the audience when Ormandy premiered both #13 & #14 in Philadelphia, btw.), but I don't have the recordings you mentioned from Chicago and much else, so I will be ordering this box next month.

Like you, I have always admired Previn's work with few exceptions (Not particularly fond of his remake of Walton I for Telarc, for example.), but his work in London was truly consistently good to great. Too bad he wasn't promoted so heavily here in the U. S.

Someday, I hope to find a copy of the Sony box somewhere!

Thanks again for bringing this up. :D

Heck148
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by Heck148 » Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:35 pm

CharmNewton wrote:
Tue Mar 09, 2021 10:21 pm
He had earlier came to conduct the Chicago Symphony in music of Shostakovich, but that proved to be an impossible ticket to get (the two recordings he made in Chicago of the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies are included in this set).
Those Shostakovich recordings are marvelous - the Sym #4 is top of the heap for me....really powerful.....

maestrob
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by maestrob » Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:57 pm

Heck148 wrote:
Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:35 pm
CharmNewton wrote:
Tue Mar 09, 2021 10:21 pm
He had earlier came to conduct the Chicago Symphony in music of Shostakovich, but that proved to be an impossible ticket to get (the two recordings he made in Chicago of the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies are included in this set).
Those Shostakovich recordings are marvelous - the Sym #4 is top of the heap for me....really powerful.....
Truthfully, I've never heard it, although it's now sitting in my pile of new, unopened CDs. I look forward to hearing it soon. I'm sure the Chicago Symphony would play this magnificently, as they did VII for Bernstein when I saw him live in Avery Fisher Hall, and later on CD (coupled with #1) for DGG.

Growing up in Philadelphia, I attended the western premiere of Shostakovich IV with Ormandy at the Academy of Music as a young teenager just before the LP was released, and it has remained a benchmark reading for me. I have many other versions, including the first Russian recording made by Kirill Kondrashin a few years later than Ormandy's, as it was briefly made available on CD in a box of Kondrashin's complete Shostakovich cycle, but the sound is early Russian stereo and his orchestra can't match Ormandy's Philadelphians for their depth and power.

When Oleg Caetani began his digital cycle of the Shostakovich Symphonies, the Fourth was recorded live and was, I think, the first to be released. That concert version is now my top recommendation, even above the Ormandy, as it is in better sound and equally if not even more electrifying. If anyone is interested, there is currently one copy on Amazon for $9.99, or you can stream it in HD.

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Seán
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by Seán » Mon Mar 15, 2021 5:13 pm

That is interesting. I must check it out when it is available as I only have a few CDs of André Previn's recordings of works by Prokofiev and that's about it.
Seán

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

Modernistfan
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by Modernistfan » Sun Mar 21, 2021 10:08 pm

I'm thinking about this, but really the only things that I really want to get are his Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich. He really excelled in that repertoire.

maestrob
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by maestrob » Mon Mar 22, 2021 7:47 am

Modernistfan wrote:
Sun Mar 21, 2021 10:08 pm
I'm thinking about this, but really the only things that I really want to get are his Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich. He really excelled in that repertoire.
Agree about the Shostakovich. I have IV, V, XIII and one other, maybe X? All are absolutely first-rate. OTOH, I'm not enamored of his Rachmaninoff II, which I find could use more....OOMPH, I guess you'd call it. Ormandy is my preference, as he owned that symphony, and worked with Rachmaninoff on some judicious cuts. The only uncut version I like is Gergiev/London: somehow Gergiev makes every note interesting, something even Ormandy didn't do in his uncut version for RCA.

Never heard Previn's Prokofiev, and am now persuading myself that this box may be worth getting, as there is much by Previn on EMI that I would like to have all in one place.

It would be interesting to see a contents list beforehand though, as he was also great with British composers, such as Britten.

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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by Lance » Mon Mar 22, 2021 2:18 pm

In thinking about André Previn and history, how do you think he will go down in history in comparison to a Bernstein, Stokowski, Giulini, C. Abbado, Ormandy, Szell, Muti, Reiner, Monteux ... well, the list could go on and on, but you get the point. Previn was also highly recognized for his work as a pianist (in the manner of Bernstein), in chamber, solo, and concerto work.
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slofstra
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by slofstra » Mon Mar 22, 2021 11:08 pm

Which is the better of the two boxes, and why?

maestrob
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by maestrob » Tue Mar 23, 2021 7:49 am

slofstra wrote:
Mon Mar 22, 2021 11:08 pm
Which is the better of the two boxes, and why?
Good morning, Henry. :D

Interesting question and, although I don't have either box, I can say that the answer I would give, from knowing his recordings that I do have, would be "both" but for different reasons.

His recordings for RCA seem to have more youthful energy: His Walton I and Vaughan-Williams Symphonies, for instance, are searing interpretations, while the EMI recordings I have are better-recorded and very well-played without the fire of his first efforts. Still very fine music-making. I suspect that, since you prefer sound quality and like Haitink's conducting style, you might go more for the EMI box then. At any rate, the RCA box in hideously expensive now, while the EMI is due out in mid-April.

Interestingly, his Wikipedia page doesn't list the Phillips label as a source for Previn's remarkable talent. I have only two CDs that I can think of at the moment on that label: a chamber music disc that features a beautiful "Archduke" with Previn at the piano, and a lovely, transparent Saint-Saens "Carnival of the Animals" with Pittsburg, both of them often in my stereo.

I have two remakes that he did for Telarc, The Planets and Walton I, and both sound like he didn't care much about the results. His earlier efforts for EMI and RCA respectively are much better musically.

maestrob
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Re: André Previn--Complete Warner Recordings

Post by maestrob » Tue Mar 23, 2021 9:13 am

Lance wrote:
Mon Mar 22, 2021 2:18 pm
In thinking about André Previn and history, how do you think he will go down in history in comparison to a Bernstein, Stokowski, Giulini, C. Abbado, Ormandy, Szell, Muti, Reiner, Monteux ... well, the list could go on and on, but you get the point. Previn was also highly recognized for his work as a pianist (in the manner of Bernstein), in chamber, solo, and concerto work.
Good morning, Lance. :D

Without hearing more of his EMI recordings, my opinion would be based on incomplete knowledge, as I only have a few discs from that part of his career. First, let me post a link to Previn's Wikipedia page, while stating up front that for some unaccountable reason his recordings on the Phillips label are not mentioned there:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_Previn

I only saw Previn conduct once here in NY with our Philharmonic, and that was during the 1980's. Like Bernstein during the same decade, he seemed tired, and what I saw was rather poorly done. He lacked energy and discipline, so I went home rather disappointed, as I did when I saw Bernstein conduct Mahler VII so poorly, which he later patched up and released on DGG. Bernstein later redeemed himself with a searing performance of Shostakovich VII with Chicago in the same hall, but Previn never had such an opportunity.

Nevertheless, I think the two conductors are worthy of comparison, as their talents were similarly eclectic, both being involved in the popular idioms of their day.

Bernstein was, IMHO, the more successful and original composer, by far. His "Age of Anxiety" (Symphony II) and his "Serenade" for violin and orchestra, not to mention the suites from various productions (West Side Story, Fancy Free, On the Town, not to mention the Prelude and Fugue with Riffs, etc.) have stayed in the repertoire, while Previn's numerous film scores have faded from view. While there have been many productions of West Side Story, Previn's Streetcar has not been re-recorded after its initial issue with Renee Fleming, although it should be, IMHO. Also, Previn's excellent Violin Concerto, also recorded by DGG with his wife, Anne-Sophie Mutter, has not been redone by other artists, although it's only been 19 years since it was composed, so I'll give it more time to be fair.

Previn had an extensive career as a jazz musician, something which Bernstein did not pursue, but Bernstein's brief foray onto Broadway with West Side Story is the stuff of legend, with Stephen Sondheim making his debut as a librettist and the already famous Jerome Robbins becoming a star dance choreographer both on Broadway and for the film version. Previn had no such great success, either here or in England.

While both Bernstein and Previn had TV programs, I've not seen much of Previn, so it's hard for me to compare, but I can say that several volumes of Bernstein's immensely popular and informative Young People's Concerts are still available on DVD, as well as his sometimes inscrutable Harvard lectures, while I can find nothing from Previn in England at the moment, while only a half-dozen episodes of Previn's "Sounds Magnificent" are available here on amazon.

So, judging by recorded legacies, it would appear that Bernstein has left us with more and better.

Also, Bernstein is credited with the revival of Mahler's compositions, adding them firmly to the standard repertoire. While Previn did very well with, say, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, I perceive him as a fine interpreter of that composer, but not his best advocate, which would be Sir Adrian Boult, even though Previn also was knighted. (He could not be called "Sir" Andre, as he was not a British citizen, having been born in Berlin, even if he did speak perfect English (one of his three languages) with a slight British accent.)

Finally, both musicians excelled at the keyboard: Bernstein famously in Gershwin and Shostakovich, Previn with Beethoven's Archduke, Mozart's Piano Quartets and Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos and Shostakovich I (recorded with Bernstein conducting, their only joint appearances on record!) among other works.

So my impression at the moment is that Previn, while extremely versatile both as a conductor and a composer, did not achieve the success of Leonard Bernstein.

I'm not even sure that he was a supremely inspiring interpreter of symphonic music as were, say Monteux, who premiered Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, a work Previn avoided, or Stokowski, who invented the Philadelphia sound (ably nurtured by Eugene Ormandy), or Abbado, who took up the Mahler mantle and left us with definitive performances of many works, including operas which, again, Previn did not explore. Also, Previn did not explore Wagner's music, perhaps because he and his family had to flee Nazi Germany to make a new life here and in England, as did George Szell, who was also Jewish, yet Szell surely made a mark with his Wagner bleeding chunks recording.

With all that said, I would rank Previn as a B+ conductor, still a first rate musician and composer, but not at the very top level of the greats.

As I stated at the opening, my knowledge of Previn's career is not at all complete, so if anyone wants to add anything here, I'd be grateful.

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