DVD Review: André Previn as music world’s man of many faces and places
André Previn: A Bridge Between Two Worlds
*** (out of 4)
Jazz people know and love him, as do fans of Hollywood film scores, opera and classical music. Over his 81 years, André Previn has led a remarkably productive, eclectic and acclaimed career as a composer, pianist, conductor and eager collaborator.
He has even spent time as tabloid fodder, when he took on Mia Farrow as the third of his five marriages.
Although pretty slim, this DVD offers up a tidy, nicely balanced, 51-minute version of this-is-your-life, André Previn, made by Lillian Birnbaum and Peter Stephan Jungk in 2008. The sole bonus is an excellent live performance from the Mozarteum in Salzburg, from 2000. It features Previn at the piano, in Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor, K.476.
In the doc, we see Previn in a live musical piano duo with Oscar Peterson, on British TV doing comedy with an orchestra in black-and-white and, best of all, we get to appreciate him through the lens of the important women in his life: Farrow, ex-fifth wife, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and soprano Renée Fleming, who premiered his opera adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Streetcar Named Desire.
Much of the talking is done in taxis, minivans and trains, giving the impression that Previn is always on the move. On one train, he says that his constant search for new challenges has a simple motive: If you say you’re happy with what you’re doing and want to keep doing it, “that’s when you get old and stale.”
It’s an inspiration (or kick in the ass) for people in any field, at any age.