Anne-Sophie Mutter is a serious violinist. Serious in the sense of world-class and serious in the sense of her choice of music.
Her early recordings are of Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart. She devoted all of 1998 performing and recording the Beethoven violin sonatas with Lambert Orkis. More recently, she has championed the works of contemporary composers; Witold Lutoslawski, Norbert Moret, Wolfgang Rihm and Krzysztof Penderecki (who dedicated his second violin concerto to her, Mutter's recording of it winning 2 Grammy awards).
Serious music from a serious musician who Herbert von Karajan described as "the greatest musical prodigy since the young Menuhin".
In this CD, however, she really lets her hair down. The Carmen-Fantasie
is pure fun. Fun to listen to and from the sounds of it fun to play. (And, I'm sure, fun to watch). Not all classical music has to be deep and meaningful. These are largely encore pieces, designed to bewitch the listener with breathtaking violin wizardry. And its no surprise that many of these pieces were written by virtuoso violinists.
Sarasate - Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs)
Gypsy melodies (often mistaken for Hungarian) were the flavour of the moment in the late nineteenth century Vienna (witness also Brahms' Hungarian Dances
and Liszt's Hugarian Rhapsodies
) and Pablo de Sarasate whipped up this show-stopper.
Wieniawski - Légende
Wieniawski wrote this for an English girl he fell in love with while on tour. It must have work - they married the following year.
Tartini - The Devil's Trill Sonata
The title refers to the fiendishly difficult final movement where the violinist is required to trill on one string of the violin while continuing a difficult melody on another. It aso refers to a legend that Tartini, while fleeing to a monastery after a secret marriage to a pupil, had a dream that he sold his soul to the Devil in return for an exquisite sonata. Listen at your own peril.
Ravel - Tzigane (Gypsy)
The Gypsy/Hungarian idea again, written by Ravel for the Hungarian violinist Arányi.
Massenet - Meditation from Thais
Anne-Sophie Mutter shifts to a tender mode for this, the most gentle of musical works, and even more so being surrounded by such flamboyant exuberance. Most of us know this music so well that its almost clichéd, but Mutter's recording reminds me how beautiful it is.
Sarasate - Concert Fantasy on themes from Bizet's "Carmen"
This is the piece that lends its title to the CD. Sarasate again gives the virtuoso treatment to five episodes from Bizet's opera.
Gabriel Faure - Berceuse
The CD ends on a quiet note. Faure was the master of simplicity, and found great beauty in the peaceful side of art.
Anne-Sophie Mutter devotes the same dedication and skill to these peices as she does for the larger scale works on other recordings. This is a recording of fresh air and fun. Come to the fair!
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Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
- Zigeunerweisen, for violin & piano (or orchestra) ("Gypsy Airs"), Op. 20
Pablo de Sarasate
- Légende in G minor for violin & orchestra, Op. 17
- Sonata for violin & continuo in G minor, Op 1/6 "The Devil's Trill"
- Tzigane, rhapsodie de concert for violin & piano
- Méditation from Thais
Concert Fantasy on themes from Bizet's "Carmen," for violin & orchestra, Op 25
- Introduction. Allegro moderato
- II.Lento assai
- III. Allegro moderato
- IV. Moderato
- Berceuse, for violin & piano in D Major, Op. 16