Anne Sophie Mutter
Manfred Honeck, conductor
with Ayami Ikeba, piano
Deutsche Grammophon, 2013
A Dvořák’s recital by accomplished German violinist Anne Sophie Mutter is a dream, but even those who know this incredible artist will be thrilled by her performance in this recording.
There a four works in all: the famous Violin Concerto («truly original, tuneful and aimed at good violinists») Dvořák wrote in 1878 at his publisher’s request and with the help of the violinist Joachim, the Romance for violin and orchestra, Muzurek and Humoresque. They are some of Dvořák’s most famous, though not very frequently performed works and Mutter herself admits in the booklet notes that «the concerto has repeatedly been on my wish list, but other projects have got in the way», but finally the time had come to record it, with an outstanding result. After all, Dvořák is a composer who, as Beethoven and Mozart (we reviewed her recording of his Violin Concertos), she admired since her childhood.
Anne-Sophie Mutter ‘s Dvořák: the Performance
«The key of A minor lends the violin a natural brilliance in terms of overtones, the use of open strings and the radiance of the sound in general» states Anne Sophie Mutter and it is not difficult at all to recognize this luminous sound in her performance. She offers an introspective and – at the same time – a communicative performance of the Violin Concerto, something that would have been a paradox if Mutter did not combine these two opposite features with the touch of her sensibility.
She heightens the brightness of Dvořák’s music with the expression of the warmest feelings, in a way that conveys to the listener the idea of radiant vitality, vitality that is present both in the amazing first movement (Allegro ma non troppo, Quasi moderato) and in the wonderful last movement (Allegro giocoso ma non troppo), but also in the middle slow movement (Adagio ma non troppo) where it is a little less predictable. This outcome is enlightened by the refined sound of the Berliner Philharmoniker, superbly conducted by Manfred Honeck, who for his part shares with Mutter the same sensibility and passion.
Romance, Mazurek and Humoresque
The Romance is “romantic”, with a word pun that is effective and appropriate. The abandonment of Mutter is followed and emphasized by the orchestra and this piece is plenty of feeling and of ineffable beauty. Mazurek is closer to the spirit of the Violin Concerto, but its folk elements put it into a completely new perspective, a perspective that Mutter and Honeck represent with feverish, joyful enthusiasm. The Humoresque, at last, is a witty work that Mutter performs with delicate irony.
Anne Sophie Mutter’s Dvořák is a perfect, lovely recording. It does not lack anything to be one of the best performances of each of the four works it features.