Mutter, violin and conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra, with
Yuri Bashmet, viola – DGG 000507802 (2 CDs, 2 hours, 29 mins.) ****:
This is really a marvellous set, gloriously played by Mutter, who,
perhaps as a sign of her maturity, has avoided some of her most
distracting idiosyncrasies. No quadruple pianos here, or coy phrasing.
Her playing is virtuosic in the best traditions of the Golden Age,
thrilling and strong of line and purpose, with dead-on intonation a
great pleasure in every bar. Her musical personality is sexually
charged with those wonderful opposites: passionate emotion and a
classical sense of structure. Backed by a modern symphony orchestra and
playing herself on a modern instrument with no pretensions to “original
instrument” notions, I’m pretty sure that most people who buy this set
will listen to the two CDs straight through.
The liner notes consist of Michael Church’s interview of Mutter, more
interesting and less self-serving than such interviews too often are.
She weighs in intelligently on the period vs. modern performance
practice debate, and describes the LPO, with rare illumination, as
“like a Porsche—vibrant and youthful … their Mozart is fast, not in
terms of tempo, but in reaction time.”
Recorded at Abbey Road Studio, the sound is rich and full without being
startlingly alive (perhaps that will come with the presumably
inevitable SACD issue). Recommended for an exhilarating, occasionally
wild ride through a body of Mozart’s work that, with the exception of
the Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola (in which Yuri Bashmet is
a magnificent partner), can often sound routine.
– Laurence Vittes