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Dvorak: Violin Concerto / Mutter [CD + DVD]

Release Date: 11/11/2013 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001930900   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Anne-Sophie MutterAyami Ikeba
Conductor:  Manfred Honeck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

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 finest
Read 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 (sound clip). 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.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Bonus DVD:
1. Antonín Dvorák (1841–1904) Romance in F Minor,
2. Antonín Dvorák (1841–1904) Violin Concerto in A minor, Op.53
3. 1. Allegro ma non troppo - Quasi moderato 12:17
4. 2. Adagio, ma non troppo 11:20
5. 3. Finale (Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo) 9:53
Anne-Sophie Mutter, Berliner Philharmoniker, Manfred Honeck
Total Playing Time 51:30
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Works on This Recording

1. Romance for Violin and Orchestra in F minor, Op. 11/B 39 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter (Violin)
Conductor:  Manfred Honeck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1877; Bohemia 
2. Mazurek for Violin and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 49/B 90 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter (Violin)
Conductor:  Manfred Honeck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879; Bohemia 
3. Concerto for Violin in A minor, Op. 53 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter (Violin)
Conductor:  Manfred Honeck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879-1880; Bohemia 
4. Humoresques (8) for Piano, Op. 101/B 187: no 7 in G flat major by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter (Violin), Ayami Ikeba (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Bohemia 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Pure Mutter January 7, 2014 By Jorge Alcover (Barcelona, Spain) See All My Reviews "A good performance from Anne-Sophie Mutter. Probably the B Ph, with more pasionnate conductor had deserve the 5 stars. Excellent DVD." Report Abuse
 Excellent CD / DVD set December 10, 2013 By Daniel S. (Alexandria, VA) See All My Reviews "Anne-Sophie Mutter has turned out another top notch recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, the orchestra where she had her debut as a teenager. I like the recording because Mutter and the orchestra play in a balanced way without the violin part being overtaken by the robust orchestra score. The DVD is a visual feast with nice shots of both the orchestra and the soloist. There is a good balance of close up finger work and more broader shots of the orchestra sections. A very nice addition to anyone's classical music library." Report Abuse
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