Prokofiev, Crumb, Webern, Respighi

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Crumb,Prokofiev,Respighi,Webern
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Recital 2000
WORKS: Violin Sonata in D; Four Nocturnes; Four Pieces, Op. 7; Violin Sonata in B minor
PERFORMER: Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin) Lambert Orkis (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 469 503-2
‘Live’ is certainly the word: right from the opening bars of Prokofiev’s D major Sonata, transcribed from its flute original, Mutter takes us straight to the heart of her magic with a sense of improvisational freedom and unpredictability. There are none of the minor drawbacks of recording before an audience: either the engineer has been able to edit out every human sound or the Stuttgart listeners really did give Webern and Crumb that necessary backcloth of silence against which every fleeting sonority registers as a major miracle.

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Up to Webern’s last whisper, seared on the memory, the programme earns its five stars: in Mutter’s hands, Prokofiev’s sleights of hand with tonality, his fascination with the tensions between pure ‘white note’ or diatonic melodies and chromatic undermining, contrast beautifully with the atonal still centre of the recital, suspending us in mid-air. Ending with a test of the violin’s pure, strong cantabile tone in the shape of Respighi’s Sonata could have worked in such company if the melodies had been as original as Prokofiev’s. While Mutter sings her heart out, Lambert Orkis, though he finds haunting water-colours in the rest of the recital, fails to lend a Richter-like gravity to this sort of rodomontade. Respighi’s final Passacaglia has its surprises, but a return to Prokofiev and his dark masterpiece, the F minor Sonata which Mutter has yet to interpret on disc, would have made for perfection. David Nice