Album: Andre Previn, An 80th Birthday Celebration, (Sony Classical)

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The Independent Culture

Few conductors have negotiated the line between populist appeal and artistic validity with the elegance of Andre Previn, but even so, it's hard to discern who this supposed birthday celebration is aimed at, so perversely does it fall between all available stools.

The opening 1971 LSO recording of Vaughan Williams' overture to The Wasps is fine, and the Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra from that same year is ruggedly involving. But the early-Sixties jazz pieces featuring Previn's piano are variable in quality, particularly the bizarre key combinations of "Mack the Knife", on which the trombonist JJ Johnson, to paraphrase Previn's encounter with Eric Morecambe, appears to be playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'The Wasps', 'Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra'