Sunday, April 1, 2012


ASM ... Anne-Sophie Mutter ... Anne-Sophie Mutter

See that photo (from the Sydney Morning Herald)? See that dress (gasps as she walked on)? Well that's what we heard. A perfectly fitting golden performance of glittering perfection and decorative brilliance all supported by the strength, and sensuality, of this most wonderful German violinist.

Rather than persist with my incoherent gushing about her and the Beethoven Violin Concerto (Kreisler cadenzas), better that you read Peter McCallum's SMH review - 'Prodigious talent meets profound musical maturity' . And now the Australian (I thought skewing towards the strings in the Shostakovich was what helped make it so brilliant). And again from McCallum. It was a concert for which all the clich├ęs were written - like hearing a new work, time stood still, you know the ones. For example, there were sections (Larghetto becomes Largo-ish) of such slow controlled elegant playing, of hushed reverence, by she of the infinite bow and endless delicacy, that the notes seemed to linger around her, each one added to by the next, till she was the centre of an aura of musical beauty and stillness the like of which I know I'll never experience again. It was something to do with hearing this exquisite playing for the first time. Nothing prepared me.

The relationship with Mr Ashkenazy (with whom she seemed especially close on the night) was significant not only in getting her here, at last, but also in the absolutely stunningly good performance by the orchestra. Talk about cranking it up a notch. It was European playing of the very best kind. It makes one wonder if all the kvetching about the acoustics might better be directed at the ensemble. It seems they can do it. I could go on and on just about the pizzicato, the horns, the winds ... what a great concert, and all the more special for no recording. Contractual issues no doubt.

And thanks to her son whose thoughts on Australia for his gap year may have been the clincher in her Oz debut. May he come, may he stay, may she visit often.

(That's Osawa, not Masur, obviously.)

More? Start here. This is not a pretense; you don't need any German.

The Shostakovich 5 followed. I love it, for its accessibility, its complexity, its profoundity, and its 'best ever' ending! They continued to play brilliantly. My only reservation was it was a pity Richard Miller on tympani didn't get a solo bow. Mr Ashkenazy is good with Russian. He knows. From the programme notes, his thoughts (as a student he met Shostakovich) are:

If you could describe Shostakovich's attitude and what he tried to express in his music, it's simply the tragedy of an individual in impossible circumstances. But we know what he wanted to say because we felt the same as he did, and we somehow deciphered it emotionally and spiritually. We were looking into a mirror of our existence. That's what it was like. It's reality. But reality can be exposed only by genius, in musical terms.

Addit - this interview around which I've now made a separate post needs to slot in here as well:


Scott said...

Hi- No pretense.Non implied from her. It's always cool to see someone on my side of the timeline kickin' it. And she does it most elegantly. I like her. German never sounded better. No price tag on my Strad, thank you. Right on. Good one Wanderer.

wanderer said...

Scott, I see you now. This is my instrument, this is my voice. And she speaks.

Susan Scheid said...

This just might be the most important consequence of "gap year" that's ever been. By my lights, by the way, you can gush all you want--and I find not a jot of it incoherent. It's a miracle that comes along only rarely to witness such a performance, and you are the sort of witness anyone would want to have--musically informed, passionate, and able to communicate that passion in language any of us can understand. Thanks for broadcasting the news.

I also very much appreciated what Ashkenazy wrote of Shostakovich. A lot of ink has been spilled over all that, yet in a few well-chosen words, Ashkenazy gets to the core: "We were looking into a mirror of our existence."

Susan Scheid said...

PS: You are right, no German needed to get the gist of the documentary, though I do wish I had enough to understand, particularly the parts with von Karajan.

wanderer said...

Susan, I know how you feel although there is an increased sense of window into her world. That said, I've been alookin' wondering if that doco was released somewhere (and maybe with subtitles) and have ended up with three DVDs

1) the Karajan memorial concert with Osawa / Mutter and the BPO - the one in the blog post.

2) Mutter plays Beethoven sonatas which includes a documnetary on her and

3) Karajan, or, Beauty As I See It - a documentary.

That'll do. I thank you, and so should Amazon! Come down and we'll watch them - 1,2,3.

Susan Scheid said...

Oh, gawd, my netflix list ever groweth: I have now found 1 & 2, though I may have to join you down-under for 3!!

David said...

ASM may be the only artist whose dress sense really matches her artistry - she wore an astounding silver number for Gubaidulina. And it's not, erm, my usual sphere of comment, but what a figure still. This in spite of the fact that she may have given rise to the current mania for all top lady violinists to be babes as well as brilliant players.