Wolfgang RIHM (b.1952)
Lichtes Spiel - ein Sommerstück, for violin and small orchestra
Dyade, for violin and double bass (2010-11) [12:35]
Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b.1933)
Duo Concertante, for violin and double bass (2010) [5:03]
Sebastian CURRIER (b.1959)
*Time Machines, for violin and orchestra (2007) [29:05]
Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin)
Roman Patkoló (double bass)
New York Philharmonic/Michael Francis; *Alan Gilbert
rec. Avery Fisher Hall, New York, 18 November 2010; *2 June 2011;
Bavaria Musikstudios, April 2011 (Dyade and Duo).
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 9359 [63:51]
This is the kind of CD that virtually sells itself: some of
the biggest names in the business - violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter,
the New York Philharmonic - two live recordings of substantial
recent world premieres, and Deutsche Grammophon's massive marketing
machinery behind the whole thing.
There is always a danger with performers - or should that be
artists? - as high-profile as Mutter, supported by DG's resources,
that the music ends up playing second fiddle. So it is that
on the CD cover here Mutter's full name is displayed in large
red letters, while Wolfgang Rihm and Sebastian Currier are relegated
to surnames in smaller grey lettering, and Krzysztof Penderecki
... where is Penderecki? Where is the other soloist,
Roman Patkoló, for that matter?
Turn the case over to find them, yet dwarfed again by Mutter,
whose profile fills the back inlay. Excluding the 11 photos
of her on the front, there are 11 inside the booklet, looking
typically elegant and fragrant, plus a full-page advert of DG's
super-duper 40-disc limited-edition boxset with 300-page hardback
book (containing another 150 photos) dedicated to her 35 years
in the spotlight - hence the title, "ASM35: The Complete
Musician" - during which time her recordings, the blurb
informs, have already sold more than 5 million units. Message
Fortunately, however, Mutter rarely disappoints, and certainly
will not in these searing performances. She has an adventurous
spirit besides, and has had numerous works written for her:
this CD brings together four recent ones by three living composers
who themselves rarely disappoint.
The two orchestral focal points are separated - some may feel
incongruously - by two virtuosic pieces for violin and double
bass: the short, jaunty and surprisingly accessible Duo Concertante
by Penderecki and the longer, darker Dyade by Rihm,
both commissioned by the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation and both
dedicated to the fine young(ish) Slovakian bassist Roman Patkoló
and, yes, to Mutter herself. Patkoló gave the premiere of André
Previn's Double Concerto in 2007, along with Previn's ex-wife
- Anne-Sophie Mutter again. That recording is available, incidentally,
on the final disc of the above-mentioned 40-CD bonanza (and
on the second CD of DG’s 6-disc Andre
Previn – A Celebration. Ed.). .
Rihm's well-crafted Lichtes Spiel ('Play of Light') has
a fairly similar feel to his Dyade, but with a small
orchestra, mainly strings, replacing the double bass. The violin
part is rapturous, now arcadian, now stratospheric, somewhat
reminiscent of Alban Berg. The CD ends powerfully with Sebastian
Currier's seven-movement violin quasi-concerto, Time Machines.
The titles of the individual sections give some indication as
to what to expect: Fragmented Time, Compressed Time,
Overlapping Time, Backwards Time, and the variation
in moods, textures, rhythms and so on is ensuantly impressive.
Nonetheless the work can be characterised as broadly reflective,
and does remain attractively tonal - nothing to worry anyone
happy with Szymanowski's great concertos, for example. Currier's
music is beginning to get the recordings it deserves - this
sparkling premiere follows hard on the heels of a Naxos recording
of his Sonata and other works for piano - for which, see review.
It is very difficult to fault any of the performances on this
disc - the musicianship is a pleasure to perceive from start
to finish. Mutter has the hardest job in four thoroughly virtuosic
works and might on that basis be singled out, but DG have already
been there, done that and sold the T-shirts.
Sound quality is excellent. The applause has been skilfully
edited out of the live recordings, as much of the expected expectoration
and rustling also seems to have been. The booklet is a fine
glossy affair, the notes informative though tending curiously
towards the pretentious. So star-struck are DG by Mutter's admittedly
prodigious talent that they omitted to provide a biography of
Patkoló, Gilbert or Francis, but they do atone, kind of, by
giving the names - and sponsors - of the entire orchestra.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk