The Violin Concertos
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin and conduction
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Boris Garlitsky, leader
Boris Bashmet, viola
Deutsche Grammophon, 2005
Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Violin Concertos: an Overview
Internationally acclaimed violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter already recorded Mozart’s violin concertos many years before the present album. Anyway, in 2005 she thought it was time to release a new recording of them together with the Sinfonia Concertante.
Mutter thinks that this recording is primarily «a celebration» of Mozart, a composer who, as Beethoven and Dvořák, she admired since her childhood. In fact, the release coincides with the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. Furthermore, this is only the first instalment of Mutter’s new series of recordings of Mozart’s works for violin, which includes also an impressive, 4 CDs set collecting the Violin Sonatas, performed with her partner Lambert Orkis (we reviewed their Silver Album here).
One of the interesting aspects of this recording is that there is no conductor here. It is Mutter herself who leads the London Philharmonic Orchestra. As she explains in the booklet notes, she is «not a conductor. But I am a leader – partly because it’s my nature, and partly because I know precisely what I want from the score, and how to explain it to an orchestra and inspire the musicians. s. Mozart himself was also more instrumentalist than conductor, and in a humbler way I am trying to emulate him».
The Violin Concertos: the Performance
If I had to summarize this recording with just one word, that word would be “brightness”. Mutter and the London Philharmonic Orchestra share a radiant tone that is ideal to a high-spirited performance.
Mutter plays with straightforwardness and passion. Her usual, romantic trait characterizes Mozart’s works unmistakably, but there is also a stronger side that is worth mentioning here. There is a sort of energy that is even more evident than her other recordings. Perhaps, it depends precisely from the fact that she is not only playing the violin, but conducting too. Her élan is infectious and conveys optimism and cheerfulness. She always stresses the melancholic nuances that from time to time appear in Mozart’s music, but it is to the bright, joyful side of the works that she really gives prominence.
The five Violin Concertos are different from one another. Their style ranges from the standard form of the earliest to the innovations of the last three. Anyway, in this recording they all share the same vibrancy and lustre. When Mutter and the London Philharmonic Orchestra play together, these positive feelings are stressed both by the liveliness of the conduction and by the colours of the instruments, which are silky and lustrous, especially in the strings. When Mutter plays alone (as in the cadenzas of the Concertos K219 and in the first movement of the Sinfonia Concertante), it is her skilful and intense playing that give prominence to these moods. As she is a stylish violinist with a technique of dizzying virtuosity, she is fabulous in these long, virtuosic passages.
London Philharmonic Orchestra
For its part, the London Philharmonic Orchestra is amazing. As I had the occasion to point out in my review of Stravinsky’s Petrushka and The Firebird, this is a fabulous ensemble. It is noteworthy for the bright and vivid sound of their instruments that give to this recording an inimitable colour.