Magazine article Strings

Mutter Meets Mendelssohn-Again

Magazine article Strings

Mutter Meets Mendelssohn-Again

Article excerpt

German violinist revisits Romantic chestnut concerto

IN ANNE-SOPHIE MUTTER'S LIFE AND CAREER, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto occupies a special place. She first played it at age 11-a feat daunting enough to inspire awe in even the most promising young violin student. She recorded it six years later with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan, and played the masterwork at her New York Philharmonic debut under Zubin Mehta the same year. "I was too young," she says, "and I overplayed it. I had to step away and broaden out."

So she learned a lot of new repertoire, including many contemporary works. Now, Mendelssohn's 200th birthday has provided the incentive for a second recording of the concerto. "It actually marks a double celebration," she says. "Mendelssohn's and Maestro [Kurt] Masur's. He turned 80 last year and asked me to record it with him as a birthday present."

Discussing the different interpretations on the two recordings, Mutter explains, "It's hard to describe. The changes evolved naturally. I feel I now understand the thoughts behind the music better and can capture its inner heartbeat. Why don't you just listen to the two records?"

The comparison is fascinating, indeed. The early version is restrained, lyrical, pensive, hardly what one would expect from a teenager; the new one is passionate, tempestuous, driving. And, true to Mutter's avowed love of speed, much faster.

"Maestro Masur encouraged me to let myself go and play it as I had always wanted to, but had never dared, with all the passion indicated in Mendelssohn's appassionato markings. …

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