Anne-Sophie Mutter has developed into an artist of striking and controversial individuality. Her recent recordings have been the subject of widely divided critical opinion, both within these pages and elsewhere, and that’s a healthy thing. Whatever one’s personal view of her highly subjective approach to matters of timbre, phrasing, and accentuation, virtually everyone agrees that she remains a violinist of remarkable technical ability whose interpretations stem from a sincere engagement with the work, and the ability to get exactly the results that she intends.
This performance of Dvorák’s Violin Concerto is a case in point, and I have no issue acclaiming it as the finestRead more version yet to appear outside of the classic Czech tradition. Mutter treats the work in the grand style, turning in a performance of bold gestures, hugely contrasted in tone, tempo, and dynamics. She’s assisted in no small degree by Manfred Honeck, a conductor of genius who plays the accompaniment for all it’s worth, with the Berlin Philharmonic sounding magnificently committed. One need only compare the opening of the piece in this performance to the reference edition by Suk/Ancerl with the Czech Philharmonic to appreciate the difference in approach (sound clips). Listen to Honeck attack the opening gesture, and to Mutter’s big, husky tone and wide range of dynamics. Suk’s by no means inexpressive approach sounds positively demure in comparison.
Mutter also has a habit, very noticeable in the slow movement, of beginning a soft phrase non-vibrato and then adding quite a bit later on, and in less sensitive hands this could turn into a mannerism–but not here. It’s all a function of a heightened expressivity that typifies her approach to the music, and when the melodies themselves are so full of feeling it works extremely well. It’s also important not to get the impression that the performance is in any way droopy or sloppily self-indulgent. The finale is one of the friskiest and rhythmically sharp on disc (Honeck and Berlin stupendous here), with a coda that truly does offer the last word in physical excitement. There are times when Mutter sounds so luscious and over-the-top that you feel guilty liking her so much, but the love that she radiates has its roots firmly in the musical phrase, and in her joy in the work.
The couplings are also marvelous, and so very intelligent: Dvorák’s remaining pieces for violin and orchestra. The Romance is made to sound touchingly profound, the Mazurek simply a blast from start to finish, and the Humoresque, in Kreisler’s arrangement with piano, surprisingly delicate and witty. Ayami Ikeba provides sensitive keyboard support in this last item. Whatever your final view of the interpretations, Mutter truly “speaks” through her instrument, and what she says sheds an entirely new light on Dvorák, and repays the closest attention.
Concerto for Violin in A minor, Op. 53by Antonín Dvorák Performer:
Anne-Sophie Mutter (Violin)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1879-1880; Bohemia
Dybamite DvorakJanuary 28, 2014By Joseph Lieber, MD (Great Neck, NY)See All My Reviews"The Dvorak violon Concerto, not as popular as the Brahms or Beethoven, is still a fantastic piece. It is given a top notch play by Mutter and the oechestral forces under Manfred Noneck. Mutter plays with passion and intensity, the Berlin Philharmonic is well up to their expectations. Dvorak wrote a cello concerto and piano concerto, all very good. This recording if the violin concerto is one of the very best and worth hearing. It clearly belongs well at the top!!"Report Abuse