Live Concert Review | Anne-Sophie Mutter plays Dvořák
Dvořák: Romance in F Minor for Violin & Orchestra, Op.11 (B.39)
Dvořák: Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op.53 (B.108)
Beethoven: Symphony No 3 in E Flat Major, Op.55 , Eroica
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Jakub Hrůša , conductor
Sydney Opera House, Saturday September 26, 2015
What is perfection in a musical performance? Is it being able to play a piece through from start to finish, without missing a note? If you play each note on a page exactly as it is written then you could argue that by the book, you’ve played it without error and so it must be a perfect performance. Is it the ability to add your own sense of feeling and musicianship to the piece and take it that one step further? Jazz musicians build their careers around their ability to do this. Does it have something to do with taking into consideration the composers intentions. What are they? What was he or she doing at the time. How did external factors dictate what they wrote down and should the performer take that into account?
Anne-Sophie Mutter has achieved international acclaim with a long and distinguished career as a concert violinist. This is the third time in the last four years that she has visited Sydney and on each occasion she has left her audiences in no doubt as to her ability, her musicianship and her connection with her audience. The Concert Hall was essentially sold out on Saturday night and the power and energy created by her performance left me asking myself, was this the perfect performance? Note-wise, yes. Big tick. Musicianship and sensibility towards the score? Another big tick. The ability to connect with the Dvořák’s intentions of writing a unique and for the time, modern concerto? Absolutely. This was as close to musical perfection as one could ask for. The orchestra members themselves radiated as enthusiastically with the rest of the audience in their applause. They were in the presence of greatness and they knew it, along with everyone else.
The first half of the concert belonged entirely to Anne-Sophie Mutter and Dvořák’s two works for violin and orchestra. The Romance in F Minor, Op. 11 is scored for a moderately sized orchestra and lasts around 12 minutes. The work itself had its origins as the slow movement of an early strong quartet. It begins elegiacally and is dominated by a main theme which is introduced by the orchestra and embellished upon by the solo violin. This is a light work, sparingly scored in many places for much of the movement. Mutter tactfully moved through the passages and allowed herself to be completely immersed in this colourful and melodic short work which has the hallmark of the composers first real foray into writing for violin and orchestra.
The Concerto in A Minor was the highlight of the concert. This is a fully fledged concerto in the romantic style which loosely uses the elements of the traditional classical concerto form but is given the Dvořák makeover including linked movements numerous virtuosic passages for the soloist and a large orchestra was is skilfully managed by conductor Jakub Hrůša in his first collaboration with Mutter.
The is the work of a mature composer at the height of his game. Mutter delighted her audience with her flawless technical prowess which permeates throughout the work. The extensive use of double stopping added to the excitement and her ability to be in touch with the orchestra at all times resulted in a performance that will long be remembered by those who attended.
After several curtain calls she endeared the audience with Bach’s Gigue from Partita No 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004. Her presence on stage is second to none and after the concert she remained behind for quite some time to sign CDs. I’ve been fortunate enough to see several outstanding violinists including Vadim Repin, Gil Shaham, Lisa Batiashvili, Hilary Hahn, Leonidas Kavakos, Boris Belkin, Midori, Nigel Kennedy, James Ehnes and Victoria Mullova. They are all outstanding musicians who are masters of their instrument. Anne Sophie Mutter has a stage presence and talent that for me is the definition of musical perfection. There is none better.
The final work on the program was Beethoven’s Eroica, a symphony with a fantastic history and one in which Beethoven takes his first big symphonic step and leaves an everlasting impression on the development and evolution of the symphony as a musical form. Thanks mainly to the efforts of Vladimir Ashkenazy, the Sydney Symphony has become an efficient vehicle for the projection of all of Beethoven’s symphonies. Lead by Concertmaster Dene Olding the orchestra has set a standard in performance which is world class. He worked well with conductor Hrůša who competently conducted without the score and wrestled through the emotional struggles contained within the music with ease. This was a fine end to a great night.