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ANNE-SOPHIE MUTTER


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"I have too much fire
to ever be burnt out."

-- Anne-Sophie Mutter

In the new millenium, the fire in her burns for contemporary music. (She credits the late Swiss conductor Paul Sacher* for stoking the fire.) Actually, the genre is now somewhat of a misnomer. As she pointed out to us backstage after her Southern California y2k recital celebrating modern violin music, today it has become music of the last century!

She has of course not shunned the music of the Classical and Romantic eras. (Indeed, her first Grammy of the millenium is her album of Beethoven violin sonatas!) And it is not uncommon for her to pair in the same programme works by Mozart, Brahms and Wieniawski with works by Bartok, Debussy and Sarasate - as she did at the first Mutter recital we attended in October 1996 (with Lambert Orkis and presented by the La Jolla Chamber Music Society). We were struck by the brilliance of her playing as surely everyone else was, but it was the awesome combination of precision and (controlled) passion with which she made the violin sing - of joy and light and grief - that etched that particular performance in our memories.

Fast forward to y2k. A recital with Lambert Orkis once again (presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County), but this time the programme is thoroughly modern Mutter. But definitely not cookie-cutter modern. The programme is eclectic but carefully chosen, with familiar names - Maurice Ravel (French), Bela Bartok (Hungarian), juxtaposed with the less familiar - Anton Webern (Austrian), Ottorino Respighi (Italian) and the unfamiliar - Arvo Pärt (Estonian). And Ms. Mutter's violin in dialog with Mr. Orkis' piano makes each piece a gem of aural discovery. She plays with undiminished precision and passion, and even when melody is dispensed with austerity (as in most all modern music) or when the notes are quite spare (as in Webern's Four Pieces - to our largely untutored ears a minimalist homage to the essence of sound), she makes the violin sing with variedly colorful voices, and imbues with soul what in lesser hands could become nothing more than a panoply of sterile bits of sound.

For her vision and superb artistry, Ms. Mutter deservedly received Denmark's much coveted LEONIE SONNING MUSIC PRIZE in 2001.

- GC/FanFaire2000

Click PLAY button to listen to clip from Ravel's Tzigane, which she played in recital with Lambert Orkis. The clip is from her album Carmen Fantasy with James Levine and the Vienna Philharmonic Ochestra.



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* It was Paul Sacher who commissioned Witold Lutowslaski's Chain 2 and Wolfgang Rihm's Time Chant for her.



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