have too much fire
-- Anne-Sophie Mutter
to ever be burnt out."
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.