The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Dvořák: Violin Concerto in A minor op.531, Romance in F minor op.112, Mazurek in E minor op.493, Humoresque in G flat op.101 no.7 (arr. Kreisler)
Indulgent interpretations mitigated by great playing
Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin) Ayami Ikeba (piano) Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Manfred Honeck
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 00289 479 1060
Dvořák’s Violin Concerto is ‘a kind of successor to Mendelssohn’s concerto’ thinks Anne-Sophie Mutter, but the way she plays it sounds closer to Bruch. The first movement is like an extended rhapsody with scant regard for a steady pulse. Manfred Honeck provides two different speeds in the first five bars before Mutter enters and dispenses with both of them. Every change of mood or motif brings with it a change of pace. The playing is fabulous: Mutter’s tone glistens, thrilling in full flight, limpid, warm and beguiling in intimate musings. The slow movement, where intimate musings are prescribed, gets its own moments of added magical introspection before the joyous dances of the finale burst forth, crisp, full of colour and detail.
For all the liberties taken along the way, Mutter’s over-egging and the feeling that Dvořák knew what he was doing and could perhaps be left alone to do it, this is a terrific performance, with the violinist at her imperious best – as of course is the Berlin Philharmonic, whose wind players are a constant delight. Mutter gives a fine lyrical account of the Romance, albeit with a few idiosyncrasies, and skips her way through the Mazurek. The simplicity of the Humoresque, however, is lost in indulgence. The recording is excellent, warm and balanced.
From the March 2014 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.