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Anne Sophie-Mutter

Stephen  Fine

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To HuangKaiVun:

There was never a doubt in my mind that Mutter plays with a huge sound--she certainly does. My point is that she has sacrificed "cleanness" in her playing as she has increasingly gone after a bigger, more aggressive style. This also happens with many male players who decide to go the "aggressive" route. I simply stated that it is easier for a female (going for aggression) to exceed her physical limitations and step into the sloppy catagory. Very few players, male or female can bring it off. Heifetz certainly did it--to the cost of a few notes here or there being played a little less than perfectly (for which he is regularly chastised by many on this board). His aggression is so effective, that I wouldn't trade it for those few notes. In Mutter's case, the aggression (to me) is just coming off as sloppy and overdone, so I would much prefer that she listen to some of her earlier work and head back in that direction, technically. Some of the original complaints in this thread were about her vibrato. OK, so let's take up vibrato--let's say that a person with a left hand the size of Perlman or Oistrakh wants to be more aggressive with their vibrato. Their fingertips are so large, that it takes relatively little effort for them to widen the vibrato and expand the tone in that manner, with a negligible penalty on left hand technique. My fingertips are not nearly as fat. If I try to imitate that style, I would have to work much harder, roll the finger back much farther in order to achieve the same wideness of vibrato and my left hand technique would suffer for it. On top of that, it sounds forced and unnatural. Why? I have just exceeded my physical limitations in that area. If I am smart, I will chose not to compete in that arena and do what works for me.

As far as identifying gender over a radio, you know as well as I (and you have stated this yourself) that the perspective of recordings is very distorted and has little bearing on real life (although "sloppy" always comes through--recording or not). I have to base my generalizations on what I've heard live.

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OK, I should never have invoked the word "SUPERMODEL." But I think one's physical presence is often very much in aid of a live performance. This is manifestly true in Carnegie Hall, which gobbles up performers. That's the only place I've seen Mutter, so I won't pass hasty judgement on her supposedly "frenzied" performance.

I will say that I've seen Perlman both at Carnegie Hall and at Avery Fisher Hall, (admittedly several years apart) and there was a world of difference. I've forgotten how the two compare in seating capacity, but A. F. Hall just has a more personal feel and the playing reflected it. I was close enough to catch Perlman's humor and magnetism and to watch the movements of those huge hands. Wonderful! cool.gif

I agree with the other comment above. Recording is a technical endeavor and has little bearing on what one knows about a live performer, male or female. It's much more than physics.

[This message has been edited by Mark_W (edited 01-17-2000).]

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Aiming for a position equivalent to Switzerland... wink.gif

It is apparent that everyone has different individual tastes. Some may overlap, and others may be as distant as is the east from the west. Hence, that is what makes each one of us unique.

Even though many music scholars have somewhat honed into a generally shared and agreed concept of what certain styles should sound like (such as the contrast with Bach vs. Tchaikovsky), we are still in the dark as to what the composer exactly wants. Maybe not even anywhere near "exactly." Unfortunately, there aren't any really decent ausio recordings prior to the mid-20th century, let alone the fact that there are no audio recordings prior to the late 19th century. All of our interpretations, memories, and desires to hear a piece a certain way WILL BE DIFFERENT.

But for now, we can say that everyone is right. Certainly, the majority can agree to favor a certain artist for a style, but there's always the minority. For our era, it will be almost impossible for us to ALL agree on the same exact conclusion.


Finally, to requote from Lymond:

***posted 01-15-2000 04:36 PM***

"In some countries... civility is worshipped as a God. Let's take their lead."


[This message has been edited by Rosanna (edited 01-19-2000).]

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  • 7 months later...

My 2 cents -

As a beginner, I'm sure I do not hear the details an experienced player would hear.

Nevertheless, I love my Anne Sophie Mutter Mozart CD. I agree, that she seems to have a heavy style and apparent vibrato. But I LIKE THE WAY IT SOUNDS. Mozart's music, in my opinion, is not to be played timidly or without feeling.

Conversely, I just got the Midori "Encore!" CD from the library and this woman sounds too fast and light in her style.

A big "neshika" for Anne-Sophie!

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She is one of the players the I just cannot seem to come in term with. I admire her violinistic talent, interest in 20th century music, as well as courage to try out new ideas in established repertoire. But somehow her playing does not quite reach my heart. I think she "over-interpretes" pieces these days.


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I also respect rather than like much of her work. There have only been a handful of live or recorded things of hers that I've felt were really top-drawer. That said, she plays as well as almost anybody and has an unusually inquiring mind. One of these days it will come together. Until then, I'm willing to be patient.

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Originally posted by Manolian:

I say dear chaps ,until anyone of you

can play the Penderecki Vln con . like Ms Anne Sophie-Mutter does .

Keep away from wasting time on petty criticism on this board.

Practicing is far more productive than critcizing.

[This message has been edited by Manolian (edited 09-20-2000).]

That will force pretty much every music critics, be they be professional or non-professional, out of business.

Since when critics are required to be a first class performer? Never heard of that. Even well-known critics like Eduard Hanslick, Robert Schumann, George Bernard Shaw, Harold Schoenberg, Irving Kolodin, Henry Roth and David Dubal were/are not known to be virtuosi in the class of Heifetz/Horowitz/Casals. But often their criticisms are well on the mark.



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Manolian... I hate to be rude, but we've had this discussion before. We've already decided that yes... even though none of us have the technical ability of many of the professionals today, we do have opinions. Just because someone is "better" than us, it doesn't mean we can't find faults in their playing. In fact, part of being a professional includes putting yourself up for criticism. Have you ever read a book review?

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  • 4 years later...

Oh come on. Since when did Maestronet turn into a Mutter Bash-Fest. Searching all the previous threads here on Maestronet, all the posts on Mutter are very disturbing. She is the real deal. And she is the only artist living right now who could care less about the flashy showpiece repertoire like Paganini, and Ernst. (Though she plays a mean Carmen). And please don't say she is famous just for her looks. She was discovered when she was only 13 at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. Debuting with not Paganini like Sarah Chang and Midori and other prodigies, but with Mozart and Beethoven. And she was pretty chubby as a teenager, then she lost all that weight and started wearing strapless gowns saying that her sound has to do with the wood against her bare skin. And some of her best recordings of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Vivaldi, concerti were made when she was 14 to 19, so please watch your ugly criticism.

And why do such great young musicians like Arabella Steinbacher, Mikhail Ovurutsky and Sergie Khacatryan take to her mentorship? Why are the greatest living conductors waiting in line to write pieces for her? Why does she have engagements with the top orchestras, and conductors around the world? Because she is a true artist, in every sense of the word. And yes there is a line were criticism turns into jealousy and insult (like I have seen here.) And if you are calling Mutter's playing aggresive than you must be listening incorrectly. Vengerov's playing is aggresive. Kremer's playing is aggresive. Mutter's playing takes to the extreme, she examines every piece of music like a great conductor or musicologist, but it never sounds thought out or pre-planned. As for Hvk stating that Mutter is the typical modern violinst, I would really like to know what that means. I have heard you play Hvk and you are certainly no Kreisler, or Kubelik yourself, so please don't portray yourself to be an "old fashioned" player because you are certainly not in their league. Mr. Rosand and Ricci certainly have some of the biggest sounds I have ever heard live from any violinist.

As for Lynmond and others, Mutter to romantic? Are you kidding me? Perlman is to romantic, most of the older generation player are to romantic. Please watch your criticsm because you sound really silly talking. Is it because you all are envious? When you do say you like something performend by Mutter you call it "decent". Mutter is the consumate musician.

I suggest if anyone here dislikes Ms. Mutter's playing, then you need to listen to it again, and again, because she is certainly no 2nd rate artist.


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I'm from Europe, so I don't know who's famous in the US, but have you guys ever heard the German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann play? To me he is (one of) the best, he plays with a lot of respect to the scores. He plays on the violin that once belonged to Kreisler. His tone is SO warm, his vibrato really sings (like Oistrakh's) and his technique is flawless. When I compare his recording of the Berg concerto with AnneSophie Mutter's, I understand much more of the music than when she playes it.

I've heard him in live performances 4 times and it was absolutely amazing!!

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Anne Sophie-Mutter & Frank Peter Zimmermann are both wonderful violinists.

I've bought lot's of Anne Sophie's performances - DVDs included like the Beethoven with Karajan and Vivaldi 4 seasons.

Got acquainted with Frank Peter Zimmermann's craft when I went looking for the Ysaye sonatas - good performance here too.

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Why not return to this thread? It is always refreshing to hear someone express enthusiasm for a violinist, rather than the usual nastiness. I agree that Mutter has always received undeservedly harsh treatment on this board.

I enjoy Mutter most when I hear Henryk Szeryng's influence in her playing (Bach & Brahms)--and least when she takes extreme liberties with tempos in "standard" works (the Beethoven sonatas). Her youthful recording of the Beethoven violin concerto is remarkable in many ways, but suffers from the Karajan-effect: over-engineering (volume on tuttis is sometimes unbearable) and some stodgy tempii.

She is fabulous live--though I've heard criticism that her dynamics are "too extreme" (= the orchestra covers her in pianissimo sections)!!

I dislike her vibrato (a matter of taste) but am in awe of her machine-gun trills. Her technique is astonishing, and her tone is beautiful. She also plays well with others (Beethoven string trios).

Overall, there is so much to be admired in her playing, even if one isn't always completely taken with her approach.


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Even Mutter herself has acknowledged that her playing polarises opinion. In the liner notes of her latest Korngold CD she states "I'm an artist of extremes...as a listener you either love it or hate it...".

Personally I think her technical accomplishments are extraordinary and beyond any sort of criticism whatsoever. I fully agree with Jane that her tone is absolutely, stunningly beautiful and she is rock solid live. As regards her vibrato, whilst it certainly is a matter of taste, it can't be denied that she is highly capable of creating huge colour variations with it. I think in this respect she is unparalleled. You have to go back to the "golden age" to find other players who could colour their sound as much as Mutter does. And this is clearly something she has worked extraorindarily hard to develop - she was not like this in the 70's, 80's or early to mid 90's. Certainly there is often a conflict between my tastes as a listener and how she intreprets her music, but since she is the one performing, she gets to interpret things the way she likes - not the way I like. No one forces anyone to listen to her or buy her recordings.

I have to say that one of the most amazing recordings in my collection is her DG Mozart #3 and #5 recording - her first - under Karajan. That a 15 year old could play Mozart like that...well there are no words to describe that achievement.

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I just heard Mutter's recording of the Tchaikovsky and Korngold concerti. The Korngold was fabulous! She puts pretty stiff competition against the legendary Heifetz recording, if not quite beating him (Heifetz is unbeatable in this repertoire). I am not always a fan of her, due to her extreme idiosyncrasies, but for the Korngold, her approach seemed to really work well. She plays with strong conviction and the music really needs it (it can sound rather sappy and uninteresting, if it is played without intense commitment).

As for her new Tchaikovsky (she recorded with Karajan a while back), it is also an interesting performance, but for me, I would prefer Frank Peter Zimmermann's new recording. Zimmermann plays with impeccable taste, combined with dazzling technique and winning lyricism. His is probably my favorite recording of the Tchaikovsky among living violinists, along with Gitlis' (I still prefer the greats of the past such as Huberman, Heifetz, Elman and Prihoda for this concerto ultimately, but Zimmermann does play wonderfully).

I should go back and listen to some more Mutter in the near future. Her Korngold certainly made me curious of her playing again.


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heh. "since when did maestronet turn into a mutter bash-fest". I'd forgotten about this thread, one of my favorites. Though most of us involved in the discussion are now gone. It's hard to believe that it's been 5 years.

I still think that she plays far too Romantic. I've heard the Korngold and I was impressed. In general though, I just don't like her playing. Ach well. Fun to see this brought up. I wonder who the mysterious trazom is.

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