In May of 2015, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter gave a truly unique concert: rather than standing on stage in one of the world’s renowned well-tempered grand concert halls, she spent two evenings playing in a tiny graffiti-scrawled nightclub in Berlin. Recorded in front of a standing-room only audience, this new release includes popular works by Bach, Copland, Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi and many more. Mutter is joined by Mahan Esfahani, Lambert Orkis and the Mutter Virtuosi.
Virtuoso violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter created a sensation at Berlin’s Neue Heimat venue, recreating the impact of her legendary 2013 Yellow Lounge appearance, when she attracted one of the biggest crowds in the history of Deutsche Grammophon’s ground-breaking “classical-goes-clubbing” series. Now she’s pushing the electric atmosphere to the limit by making the first-ever live Yellow Lounge recording. The ground-breaking project, co-produced by Deutsche Grammophon and ZDF, is set for global release in August, with German TV broadcasts in the summer and autumn, and a special documentary to follow in 2016. Deutsche Grammophon President Mark Wilkinson welcomed Mutter’s return to the Yellow Lounge: “Last night, in Berlin, a part of classical music changed for ever. Anne-Sophie Mutter is breaking down boundaries, and taking risks without compromising her art – ultimately pushing on a door through which we hope others will follow.”
To mark her highly publicised performance at the 2011 Classic Brits, DG are releasing this stunning 2CD set of some of her very best recordings. Arranged chronologically, the compilation’s sequence offers a comprehensive look at Anne Sophie Mutter’s Deutsche Grammophon career — from her Mozart debut in 1978 to her Brahms Sonatas in 2010, with all of her musical partners.
Even though Anne-Sophie Mutter recorded most of the great violin concertos early in her career, working closely with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, she hadn't recorded the Violin Concerto in A minor of Antonín Dvorák. This 2013 recording with Manfred Honeck and the Berlin Philharmonic fills that gap in her legacy, and this is an exceptionally bright and passionate performance, well worth the wait.
Veteran violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter is not performing the usual Beethoven or Mozart repertoire here, but branching out to embrace new music commissioned for her. Along for the ride are the excellent New York Philharmonic under the baton of Michael Francis for the first Rihm work, and then under Alan Gilbert for the Currier piece, along with contrabassist Roman Patkoló. Lichtes Spiel (for violin and small orchestra) is indeed a "light game," with layered voices in the strings.
Anne-Sophie Mutter obviously had fun making this disc. In the quiet pieces (Massenet, Ysaÿe, Fauré) which serve as interludes, she plays with her usual exquisite taste. In the showpieces, though, she goes to town, sliding, scooping, exaggerating, & letting all the stops out. The gypsy inflection she uses in Ravel’s Tzigane & Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen is delicious. Even a ridiculous orchestral arrangement of Tartini’s Devil’s Trill Sonata is more amusing than offensive. With James Levine & the Berlin Philharmonic providing uncommonly alert & powerful support, & Deutsche Grammophon’s realistic sound, this disc is a real treat for violin lovers.
This SACD transfer of Anne-Sophie Mutter’s Beethoven violin sonatas, taken from a series of live recordings from 1998, does not transcend the questionable interpretations. In each of these famous sonatas, Mutter takes excessive liberties with respect to dynamics and phrasing, and while some listeners may appreciate the thought and care she puts into these readings, it sounds as if she is trying a bit too hard to be “musical”. For example, just before the exposition repeat of the “Spring” sonata, several instances of disproportionate agogic pauses, inconsistent use of vibrato, random adherences to sforzando markings, and a sporadic disregard for (or recasting of) dynamics combine to produce an overly fussy performance that lacks momentum and a sense of direction.