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Simply Anne-Sophie
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)

First Allegro from Concerto for Violin and Orchestra op. 8 no. 1, RV 269 "Spring" (The Four Seasons) [3.36]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Rondeau: Allegrofrom Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 3 in G major, K 216 [6.22]
Adagio from Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 5 in A major, K 219 [11.16]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Romance for Violin and Orchestra no. 2 in F major op. 50 [8.27]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

Méditation from Thaïs [6.43]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)

Liebesleid [4.25]
Lambert Orkis (piano)
André PREVIN (b. 1930)

Song – from Tango Song and Dance, (dedicated to Anne-Sophie Mutter) [5.04]
André Previn (piano)
Johannes BRAHMS 1833-1897)

Hungarian Dance no. 6 in B flat major - Vivace (transc. Joseph Joachim) [3.46]
Lambert Orkis (piano)
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)

Summertime from Porgy and Bess (transc. Jascha Heifetz) [2.14]
André Previn (piano)
Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)

Fantaisie de Concert sur des motifs de l’opéra "Carmen" op. 25 [12.35]
Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin, conductor)
Trondheim Soloists
London Philharmonic Orchestra
New York Philharmonic/Kurt Masur
Wiener Philharmoniker/James Levine
rec. Vienna, 1992; Copenhagen, 1999; Munich, 2001-2002; New York, 2002; London 2005
Bonus DVD: VIVALDI The Four Seasons TV Spot [0.37]; MOZARTRondeau: Allegro – from Concerto for Violin and Orchestra no. 3 [6.53]; BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto, excerpt from 1st movement [3.41]; PREVIN Song [5.28]. Picture gallery. Discography. Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin); Trondheim Soloists; Camerata Salzburg; New York Philharmonic/Kurt Masur; André Previn (piano)
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 00289 477 7166 [64.29]

Simply Anne-Sophie is a compilation of Anne-Sophie Mutter’s favourite recordings with Deutsche Grammophon. These span a long illustrious career and collaborations with some of the greatest orchestras and conductors. These being pieces, we are told, that she personally chose, I was expecting to see more contemporary music, as Mutter is always very keen to promote modern music by living composers. This is not the case; the only one who is still living is André Previn, who was once her husband and composed various pieces especially for her. What we have here though is an eclectic selection of mostly popular pieces, each beautiful in its own different style, and others slightly less well known but equally wonderful. This makes the set ideal for somebody who is not familiar with Mutter or who is only just getting introduced to classical music. I would recommend this CD as a good initiation into the colourful world of classical music in general and of the violin in particular. I believe this is also something the violinist was trying to achieve. In the booklet accompanying the CD, she says that she would like "her listeners to be moved and emotionally affected by what she plays and would also like to help people overcome the inhibitions they may still feel towards classical music."

Another interesting aspect is that Mutter conducts three of the pieces directly from the violin: the first movement, Spring, from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the Trondheim Soloists, the Rondeau, Allegro from Mozart’s violin concerto number 3 in G major and the Adagio, again by Mozart but this time from his violin concerto number 5 in A major, both with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. While we cannot see the rapport between Mutter and the other musicians, we can sense it in the clarity and purity of sound, which perfectly cushions and enhances Mutter’s intense, deeply-felt renditions.

The other tracks on the CD while no longer conducted by the violinist, are delivered with her usual sensibility. We also hear her virtuosic, lyrical playing with the violin often having the quality of a crystal clear human voice. In spite of all her unquestionable virtuosity, she never shows off or attempts to outshine her accompanists or the various instruments in the orchestra. Instead she displays the ability to immersing herself in the music, knowing exactly where her violin solos fit into the score as a whole. She said that she gained this "bird’s-eye" perspective from the man who discovered her, Karajan no less. This is certainly one of Mutter’s most invaluable qualities and one that makes her performances genuine and compelling.

This disc is quite delightful and one to be chosen as a companion on a rainy, miserable day when one is feeling depressed and disappointed with the world in general and life in particular. All the pieces are uplifting, luminous and with a positive tone in one way or another. While Vivaldi and Mozart will warm your heart, Beethoven and Massenet may bring you to tears. The pieces by Kreisler and Previn will make you dream even if Kreisler’s composition is supposed to describe suffering caused by love (Liebesleid). Gershwin will enchant you and Brahms’ Hungarian Dance and Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy will have you on your feet, happily dancing around even if you do not have a partner.

Additionally to the CD, we also have a so-called bonus DVD, containing a few promotional clips of works recorded by Mutter. These, though brief, give you a good insight into what it means to work with her and how her live performances are likely to impact on and move an audience. For me, the real bonuses are in the second clip and in the photo gallery.

Clip number two is of the Rondeau from Mozart’s violin concerto no. 3. It is played in full and the film shows Mutter subtly conducting the Camerata Salzburg, as well as playing the violin. The camera-work is good, with some well-chosen close-ups of the ensemble as well as of Mutter’s hands and fingers. These help one understand her virtuosity, particularly if one has never seen her live in concert or recital. The final delighted smile at the Camerata musicians when they finish reveals the rapport between them and the sense of achievement.

The photo gallery is simply lovely to look at. It features some of the photographs contained in the CD booklet and cover, as well as pictures of Mutter and other artists she has collaborated with. The photos are stylish, revealing not only the seriousness with which she takes music and her art but also the fact that she has fun and enjoys life. They are displayed as a slide-show to the immensely beautiful, compelling sound of Mutter playing Méditation, the poignant solo from Massenet’s opera Thaïs.

To conclude, Simply Anne-Sophie is a lovely anthology of Mutter’s work, as well as an interesting snapshot of several of the greatest composers. It is a sequence of highlights and therefore extremely pleasurable, however it may leave some music lovers, who might prefer the depth and complexity of listening to a performance of an entire piece, a little indifferent.

Margarida Mota-Bull


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