Brahms: Violin Sonatas: No. 1 in G, Op. 78; No. 2 in A, Op. 100; No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108; plus encore: Wiegenlied, Op. 49, No. 4; Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis in conversation (in English) and on Brahms’s Violin Sonatas (in German)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Violin Sonatas: No. 1 in G, Op. 78; No. 2 in A, Op. 100; No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108; plus encore: Wiegenlied, Op. 49, No. 4; Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis in conversation (in English) and on Brahms’s Violin Sonatas (in German)
PERFORMER: Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Lambert Orkis (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DG 073 4617

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In the accompanying interview to these performances, we are told that Anne-Sophie Mutter’s earliest introduction to Brahms’s Violin Sonatas was through hearing them played by David Oistrakh.

Judging by the sumptuous sounds that characterise the opening melody of the A major Sonata finale or the Adagio of the D minor, the Russian violinist’s gloriously warm tone has remained firmly etched in her memory.

Equally evident is the unanimity of ensemble Mutter secures with pianist Lambert Orkis who follows every interpretative nuance in her playing with astonishing precision.  

And yet for all the technical brilliance that is on offer, I found this DVD a curiously sterile affair. Although the camera gives us a fair balance of shots of both instrumentalists, the performances, recorded in front of an enthusiastic audience in the beautifully ornate Bibliothekssaal in Polling, projects little inner tension.

Quite simply Mutter takes the spotlight for too much of the time with Orkis apparently quite prepared to play a subservient role. Another problem is Mutter’s impossibly mannered interpretations which seriously disrupt the natural flow of the musical argument in the opening movements of the G major and A major Sonatas.

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Like the performances, the item in which Mutter and Orkis discuss their approach to Brahms seems stilted shedding precious little insight into the ways in which both interpreters have approached the music. A release that will only be of interest to Mutter’s admirers, I fear. Erik Levi