Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
(Oslo Philharmonic Website)
André Previn, Music Director, Conductor, Pianist
(André Previn Website)
Denyce Graves, Mezzo-Soprano
(Denyce Graves Website)
At Carnegie Hall
Raechel Alexander, Manager, Public Affairs
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 10, 2005
André Previn is a conductor, pianist, composer, and the recipient of an extensive list of awards, including a Kennedy Center Honor for Lifetime Achievement, Academy Awards, and Grammy Awards. He is Music Director of the Oslo Philharmonic and a guest with international orchestras, such as Vienna Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic. In 1996, Mr. Previn was awarded a Knighthood. He composed an opera, Streetcar Named Desire, and is published by G. Schirmer Inc. He has recently composed a violin-piano work, Tango Song and Dance and a Violin Concerto, both recorded with Anne-Sophie Mutter on DG label. He is now working on a new opera, based on the novel Silk. (Program Notes).
Mr. Previn was also Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony, Music Director of both Pittsburgh Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Principal Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic. Also a highly accomplished jazz musician, Mr. Previn originally arrived in Hollywood at the age of ten, as a German refugee. (No Minor Chords: My Days in Hollywood, by André Previn, Doubleday, Edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937): Alborada del gracioso (1918).
George Gershwin (1898-1937): Piano Concerto in F Major (1925), Allegro, Adagio, Allegro agitato, André Previn, Bösendorfer Piano.
Maurice Ravel: Shéhérazade (1903), Asie, La flûte enchantée, L’indifférent, Denyce Graves, Mezzo-Soprano.
Maurice Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2 (1913), Lever du jour, Pantomime, Danse générale.
Sir André Previn has the professional pedigree of a King of music genres (See Above, and that’s only a partial list). To focus on tonight’s performance, Mr. Previn performed as director, pianist, and conductor, sometimes at the same time. He brought out the innate passion and potent power of the Oslo Philharmonic, the deep, rich vocalization of mezzo-soprano, Denyce Graves, and the resonant, songbird qualities of the Bösendorfer. His small physical stature on the podium and at the keyboard grew to large charismatic stature as the concert commenced.
Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso was interpreted by Mr. Previn and the orchestra with moody, exotic elements and undulating musical imagery. A highlight of the evening, Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F Major, found Mr. Previn at the keyboard, facing the orchestra (back to the audience), to be pianist/conductor with ease. Mr. Previn’s vast piano jazz background and performance experience served him well, and this Concerto resounded with the full spirit of New York - busy, edgy, hot, classy, eclectic, and, might I say, danceable. With movements merging, Allegro to Adagio to Allegro, in rambunctious succession, with a piano-xylophone conversation, and with the very European orchestra exuding a very local style and sound, Mr. Previn and the Oslo Philharmonic royally entertained an audience hungry for inspiration and “white tie” magic. That hunger was well nourished.
Denyce Graves, resplendent in a long, golden gown, to compliment the regal quality of the evening, sang the lyrics of Shéhérazade, with compliments from a harp and solo violin, in varying tones of wild fire and blissful wind. Lyrics ranged (in French) from “Where fantasy sleeps like an empress…” to “I would like to see eyes dark with love, And pupils sparkling with joy…” to “I would like to see roses and blood”…to “It seems that each note flies, From the flute toward my cheek, Like a mysterious kiss.” At times, her voice wafted over the audience like a thick, warm haze. Ms. Graves was an imposing and magnetic presence, with grandeur and grace.
Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2 is a popular and rapturous work, sometimes chosen for a romantic ballet. Mr. Previn magnified the smaller and larger moments of this impressionistic score with magisterial imagery. Wild flourishes abounded, like rippling waterfalls and sunbursts. Kudos to Sir Andre Previn, to Denyce Graves, and to the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for a first class celebration of first class music.