WORKS: Diversions; Sallie Chisum remembers Billy the Kid; Vocalise; The Giraffes go to Hamburg; Three Dickinson Songs
PERFORMER: Barbara Bonney, Renée Fleming (soprano), Moray Welsh (cello), Renée Siebert (alto flute); Vienna PO, LSO/André Previn (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 471 028-2
Inspired by the Previn retrospective at last year’s Salzburg Festival (for which Diversions was commissioned), this survey of André Previn’s recent music pays tribute to a career that is remarkable for its variety and continuing fertility. All of the music has been recorded here for the first time and, with Previn himself firmly in charge, listeners can enjoy his fluent skills as a composer, conductor and pianist.
Diversions was written for the Vienna Philharmonic, which gives a splendid performance under Previn’s direction. Dynamic rhythms and colourful instrumentation in the first movement and passacaglia resolve satisfyingly in the soothing and reflective slow finale.
The music-making in the vocal items is likewise beautifully crafted. Barbara Bonney delineates the Billy the Kid story with great theatrical presence. Meanwhile, her evocative articulation of the voice part – sensitively balanced by Moray Welsh on cello – is impressively atmospheric.
Renée Fleming sings the other items in the programme with comparable eloquence. Supported by Previn’s subtly nuanced touch on the piano, she gives a touching portrayal of the fate of two giraffes uprooted from their natural habitat in The Giraffes go to Hamburg. Vivid impressionistic shades and bright exuberance in the Dickinson Songs complete a delightful concert. Nicholas Rast