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Customer Review

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mutter mutterings, March 11, 2009
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This review is from: Violin Concerto In E Minor Op. 64 [CD/DVD Combo] [Limited Edition] (Audio CD)
These Mendelssohn pieces are major works that Mutter clearly masters and presents in interesting ways. The Violin Concerto, for instance, she takes at quite a fast pace, but still holds its shape. In partnership with Lynn Harrell and Andre Previn, she does a lovely job with the Trio No. 1.

A point of concern is Mutter's overwhelming vibrato and excessive "expression." To my ear, she now makes a similar over-done tone that Perlman came to rely on in his fifties. Anyone else out there hearing this?
This edition contains both a cd and a dvd. The dvd seems to have a very slight synchonization problem that I found disconcerting. As a violinist, I am interested in seeing how Mutter bows, but couldn't quite do it with this technical glitch.
My last quibble is the package, which is all pink and mauve and flower petals. Blame it on the marketing department, not Mutter, but it doesn't square with the artistic strength either of Mendelssohn or of these players.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 12, 2009 2:10:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 12, 2009 2:11:15 PM PDT
J. Sung says:
I totally agree. I actually can't stand her sound for more than a minute.. Too aggressive, and everything is pushed(sometimes to the point of absurdly ugly).

Posted on May 1, 2009 3:47:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 2, 2009 3:24:05 AM PDT
Stephen Kass says:
I didn´t find this new recording quite as bad as you did I could listen to the concerto all the way through) but I agree with you in general. By her standards Sophie-Mutter plays the Mendelssohn concerto quite moderately but in my opinion she misses the spirit of thic concerto. As is her custom she adds far too much "expression" to a predominantly lyrical work composed shortly before the middle of the 19th century. Mutter seems to have problems when it comes to restraining from playing herself into the foreground, in this case in a style that has little to do with Mendelssohns lyrical form of Romanticism.
The way in which she begins says everything: this most unusual opening is surely not intended for the soloist to show off. It should be played quite humbly, starting in piano and full of longing ("Sehnsucht"). The climax comes later. In this concerto Mendelssohn built a "bridge" between between Beethoven and Romanticism - that is one of the reasons why it is so special. Sophie-Mutter plays it as though it was composed towards the end of the century or in the 20th. century. As you say her excessive use of vibrato creates a sugary sweetness that is hard to bear for long. The last movement is taken so fast by Mutter that the orchestra can hardly keep up (for example the passage with the soloist and flutes). Here too, Mutter seems primatrily concerned with demonstrating just how fast she can play - technically staggering but the it is the music that suffers.
For really good new versions listen to Capucon or Daniel Hope (earlier version of 1844). Mullova with Gardiner is also interesting - exactly the opposite of Mutter. She plays her part with very little vibrato but in the end the performance is a bit too restrained for my taste - it starts off wonderfully - very quiet and introverted but then fails to really build up to a climax leaves one in the end a bit unsatisfied. Nevertheless a thoughful and very different approach to an overplayed work!
I´m afraid that Sophie Mutter for all her brilliant technical ability mostly misses the spirit of the music she plays. She nearly always overinterprets instead of placing herself in the service of the composer. Listen to her Mozart concertos and the Sinfonia concertante K.364. What she does to the opeining melody of the slow movement of the Concertante comes close to being an atrocity. Out of a lovely, simple but touching melody she makes a sobbing, sighing melodrama - destroys the musical line by introducing pauses where none are written. Mutter seems to think it necessary to pile on lots of "emotion" to the music instead of trusting the composer - the result frankly borders on "Kitsch". On the other hand when it comes to contemporary music Mutter can really be most exciting - listen to her recording of Gubaidulinas second "violin concerto" especially composed for her - an amazing performance of a highly expressive and moving work. Here she can really let her hair down, immerse herself deeply in the expressiveness of the piece music (she prepared her interpretation in active collaboration with the composer). One could of course counter that we have no comparitive recordings of this work (yet). It really is a pity that there seems to be no one who advises her about period-style and good taste. Her earlier mentor Herbert Karajan certainly was not predestined to fulfil this role. That is probably why Mutter, to my mind doesn´t seem to be developing as an artist. She reflects too little and simply relies on her natural musicality and technique. Is this enough today? Stephen Kass
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