André Previn: A Bridge between Two Worlds

Article excerpt

André Previn: A Bridge Between Two Worlds. DVD. Directed by Horant H. Hohlfeld. Berlin: C Major, 2010, 2008. 703208. $24.99.

The title of this DVD (separating the worlds of Jazz and concert music) is somewhat misleading - while Previn began his public career as a teenaged jazz pianist, that part of his musical life has taken a backseat to his activities as a classical performer, composer and conductor since the 1960's. The sheer variety of his work since then is presented here through a series of clips and interviews-although "conversations" is perhaps a better way of describing them. Se - quences with Mia Farrow, Renée Fleming, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Tom Stoppard are enhanced by Previn's participation-he frequently turns the questions on the interviewer. This active curiosity is a crucial part of the personality that is the focus of this documentary. Conversations with his sons Fletcher and Lukas and reflections on the difficulties of maintaining family ties for a touring musician are fascinating, especially considering the obviously warm relations between them.

A distracting part of the production is that about a third of the interviews (with Mutter and a long biographical monologue by Previn) are conducted entirely in German, so for those without a reasonable proficiency, an ability to navigate the language menu and activate the subtitles is key. At the beginning of the film, the languages ping-pong back and forth from scene to scene, which interrupts the flow to a considerable degree.

Perhaps the greatest contribution of this film comes through Previn's observations about his performance philosophies. Scenes of him conducting a rehearsal of the Vienna Philharmonic and archival footage with the London Symphony emphasize his genial demeanor and personal interaction with musicians. …

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