We are told that the recording industry is in a very
poor condition these days. It generally seems to be the case that most
of the majors have ceased recording yet other versions of the popular
classics by the next up and coming young maestro. We may therefore be
in for a number of treats, as music which may not have made it to the
studio is now being recorded.
The logic behind this is presumably "let us release
something a little out of the ordinary and see what happens." If
choice of artists have anything to do with it, this disc should do very
well. We have two of the most popular young sopranos around at present,
the Vienna Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra and André
Previn, both conducting and playing.
This disc displays different facets of Previn’s work
as a composer, and it would be a shame if lovers of orchestral works
or piano accompanied vocal works were each to steer clear of this recording
because of the presence of the other on the disc. His music is easy
to listen to, but there is enough complexity to keep the interest from
The Diversions was written in 1999 for the Vienna Philharmonic
Orchestra, and premiered by them in January 2000. It is in four movements
– a prologue, followed by a slow passacaglia, then a fast section and
a slow finale. Solo passages are clearly in evidence for clarinet, cello,
piccolo, horn, trumpet bassoon, oboe and flute. So a mini concerto for
orchestra. This was recorded live, and as in the past with DGG, this
means primarily live with patching sessions clearing all of the major
audience noises, including applause, which I am sure there was plenty.
This is the second time Barbara Bonney has recorded
both the Vocalise and Sallie Chishum – she did it for Decca in the mid-nineties
in Boston, accompanied by Previn at the piano. What we have on this
disc is the orchestral premieres, so if you have the previous recording,
there is no direct duplication.
Renee Fleming then takes over, with Previn accompanying
at the piano, in two further brand new works originally premiered by
Fleming. The Giraffes Go to Hamburg is a setting of a very short excerpt
from Karen Blixen’s "Out of Africa" and the Three Dickinson
Songs which were written for Renee Fleming.
André Previn is extremely lucky in that he couldn’t
wish for better standards of performance from his various artists, the
singers in particular both performing their respective pieces with sensitivity
and charm. If I single out the singers for special mention, this is
not to denigrate the two orchestras who turn in performances as we all
would expect, and DGG’s recording and presentation are well up to their
normal house standard. Very highly recommended.