Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Anne-Sophie Mutter

I started listening to classical music seriously in 1981. Two of the first recordings I bought back then were

  1. Mozart violin concertos #3 and #5
  2. Mendelssohn and Bruch violin concertos
These are also two of the early recordings by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, the first (the Mozart concertos) made when she was fifteen. Ms Mutter's been a favourite of mine since.

There was no question, then, of my answer when a friend asked if I wanted to attend a concert recently, in which Ms Mutter would play Mozart violin sonatas accompanied by Lambert Orkis. Yes, of course I wanted to! The concert was excellent, and on yesterday's All Things Considered, NPR had an interview with Ms Mutter and Mr Orkis, and a discussion of their Mozart project.

I'd seen Anne-Sophie Mutter play a concert before, the Mendelssohn concerto.The recording is with the Berlin Philharmonic. I saw her play it with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center some twenty years ago. I so love her recording of it, and especially the lyrical, lilting final movement, which feels like a romp through a sunny field of wildflowers. The trend at the time was to play that movement much faster, giving it what seems to me a hectic feeling, not a romp at all. I went to the concert, a few years after her recording of the piece, looking to hear that romp in person.

Two minutes into the piece, the e string of her violin broke. She stopped and looked up at the conductor, who stopped the orchestra. She shrugged and walked off stage briefly, returned, and retuned. They started over and I sat back in my seat and enjoyed the sound.

The music came to the final movement. And, well, alas, Ms Mutter had gone with the prevailing custom then, playing it faster, too fast, troppo allegro. It was still a wonderful concert, but I went home and played the recording. I needed both, the live concert and the favourite recording.

It's hard to think, after those recordings from her teens, that now Ms Mutter's in her 40s, the mother of two children, widowed and now divorced (just a few months ago, from André Previn). Recordings are frozen in time, but time itself moves on. I wonder what she'd do with the Mendelssohn concerto now.

She did wonderful things with the Mozart sonatas last week.

No comments: