Previn: Two Remembrances Program Notes

André Previn (b. 1929) has enjoyed an award-winning and extraordinarily versatile career as a pianist, conductor, and composer. Awards include the Glenn Gould Prize, several Grammy awards for his recordings, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy, four Academy Awards, and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Kennedy Center, the London Symphony Orchestra, and Gramophone Classic FM. As a pianist, his collaborators include Renée Fleming, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Lynn Harrell. As a conductor, he has held chief posts with some of the worlds leading orchestras including, but not limited to, the Houston Symphony, London Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony and Royal Philharmonic orchestras. As a composer, his early output includes both original and adapted film scores as well as original songs for films. His focus in his later years has shifted largely toward contemporary classical music.

Two Remembrances (1995) is a chamber work in two movements for soprano, alto flute, and piano. The composer includes the following notes in the score:

Two Remembrances was first performed at a recording session for Sony Classical on 24 July 1995 in Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood, USA by Sylvia McNair (soprano), Sandra Church (alto flute), and the composer (piano). A Love Song is a setting of Ein Liebeslied by Else Lasker-Schüler…The translation is set of music and reproduced by kind permission of Michael J. Gillespie…Lyric is a setting of I am yours by Frau Ava, from A BOOK OF WOMEN POETS FROM ANTIQUITY TO NOW, edited by Willis and Aliki Barnstone.

Two Remembrances sets texts from Expressionist poet Else Lasker-Schüler (1869-1945) and Middle Ages poet Frau Ava (1160-1127), but despite the 700-year time lapse, Previn combines the voices of these two women to produce a work with a timeless and universal theme: love. The use of the alto flute rather than the traditional C flute creates a greater timbral and registral distinction between the flute and the vocalist, and the distinct soprano, alto flute, and piano voices interact both conversationally and in tandem throughout this lush and textually-driven work.

The first performance of this work with Sylvia McNair, Sandra Church, and the composer is available on YouTube:

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