Needs Some Life
Clarinet | ---------- | 11/06/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Andre Previn surely must have outstanding talent, experience and musical knowledge to have been chosen conductor of the Royal Philharmonic. Unfortunately, very little of this comes through in this recording. His presentation of Berlioz's colorful life and music is bland, lifeless, affectless, and lacking expression. There is a long and over-detailed story of Berlioz's love affair with Harriet Smithson (which prompted the creation of the Symphonie Fantastique) but disappointingly little insight into the music itself. Previn's face and voice show almost no life as he tells his story. And unfortunately this carries through into his performance of the music itself. Here is a superb orchestra playing exciting music in a lifeless, passionless way. It becomes very frustrating and annoying to watch, because there is so much wasted potential here. The concept of a noted conductor teaching about great music and then performing it for the viewer is wonderful and exciting (as Leonard Bernstein has demonstrated). In this case, however, I recommend borrowing the tape from your local library first, and then decide if you want to spend your money on it."