Mozart: Violin Sonatas

WORKS: Violin Sonatas
PERFORMER: Anne-Sohie Mutter (violin), Lambert Orkis (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 477 6318
The Mozart violin sonatas – the


culmination of Mutter’s ambitious

project encompassing his major

violin works – bring out both the

best and the worst of her artistry.

To get the worst over with first, her

account of the austerely beautiful

E minor Sonata, K304, is narcissistic

in the extreme: full of swooning nonvibrato

pianissimo, and so lachrymose

as to be stylistically suited to Puccini

more than Mozart.

There are traces of a similar

approach elsewhere in the cycle – the

over-plaintive account of the gently

pathetic G minor slow movement

from the Sonata K380, for instance;

or the tugging at the heart-strings

with heavy vibrato and rubato in the

soaring first episode in the Adagio of

the E flat Sonata, K481 – but they are

rare enough to make the wholesale

lapse of taste in that E minor Sonata

quite incomprehensible. Indeed,

besides the unmistakable mastery

of the violin playing itself, what’s

really impressive about Mutter’s

cycle is the variety of colour and

character she manages to inject into

the music. Even the last F major

Sonata, K547 – not one of the greatest

– is given a new lease of life by the

unpretentious poetry Mutter draws

from it. She is also a player who

knows how to accompany the piano

when necessary. Lambert Orkis is his

usual dependable self, if not quite as

intuitive a Mozartian as some who

have tackled this repertoire.

While there’s much to enjoy here,

then, either Barenboim and Perlman

or Lupu and Szymon Goldberg

(Decca) offer more even-handed

music-making. In the end, the

superior recorded sound of the earlier

DG set, and the security of Perlman’s

playing over Goldberg’s, just tip the


balance in its favour. Misha Donat