Anne Sophie Mutter & Lambert Orkis
The Silver Album
Deutsche Grammophon, 2014
The double disc set The Silver Album wants to celebrate the 25th years anniversary of partnership between violinist Anne Sophie Mutter and pianist Lambert Orkis, a collaboration begun in December 1988 and lasted to our days, with the selection of some of their best performances together with two world premiere recordings of André Previn’s Violin Sonata No. 2 and Krzysztof Penderecki’s La Follia per Violino Solo.
The tracklist is wide and varied and includes Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin no. 7, Brahms’s Sonata no. 2, Mozart’s Sonata K 481 and Fauré’s Sonata no. 1, as well as three pieces composed by Austrian composer Fritz Kreisler (Schön Rosmarin, Viennois caprice op. 2 and Liebesleid), Brahms’s Hungarian Dances, Massenet’s Meditation from Thaïs, Ravel’s Pièce en forme de Habanera and Debussy’s Beau soir.
The quality of the works is superb, as it was foreseeable when two accomplished virtuosi play together, while their quantity is such that hearing so many of them one after another gives a wonderful overview on Orkis and Mutter’s long and happy collaboration and gives prominence to its main features, one of the most valuable is their almost telepathic sympathy, which allows them to play wonderfully together and to interact smoothly. Definitely, twenty-five years have not passed in vain and Mutter and Orkis’s playing is so similar that it is frequent to hear the expression of the same feelings, all’unisono, in the dialogue between piano and violin. Mutter is more romantic, but Orkis’s sensitivity responds very well to her mood and supports her tirelessly, to the point that there is never contraposition and always communication. Therefore, The Silver Album can be considered a monument to friendship and to the powerful evocation that such a positive collaboration can create in music. In this regard, this recording is far more than a music lesson or of a display of talent and artistry and its meaning is far deeper and inspires respect for both musicians.
Among the best works, I recommend to hear Brahms’s Sonata, especially for Orkis’s self-assured and brilliant accompaniment; Beethoven’s Sonata, which is perhaps the most perfect sample of the communicativeness between the two instruments and where the sweetness of Mutter’s violin stands out remarkably well; Brahms’s three prodigious Hungarian Dances, which are among the most memorable tracks on the album thanks to Mutter’s magnetic virtuosity; Mozart’s Sonata, played by Orkis with a lively spirit, to which echoes an unusually subdued and melancholic violin; and Previn’s Sonata no. 2 for its remarkable intensity, especially in the second movement.
I would like to spend few words on Penderecki’s La Follia per Violino Solo. This work is the only one in which Mutter plays alone and it is really thrilling. She seems to concentrate in this single work all her energy and skill and the result is outstanding and allows to appreciate the strong impact of both her commitment and her sound, enviable technique.
The Silver Album is a glorious celebration to which there is nothing to add but that it offers some excerpts among the finest performances Mutter and Orkis gave together in their first twenty-five years together.