Rihm: Lichtes Spiel

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Currier,Penderecki,Rihm
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Rihm: Lichtes Spiel; Dyade; Penderecki: Duo concertante; Currier: Time Machines
PERFORMER: Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Roman Patkoló (double bass); New York Philharmonic/Michael Francis, Alan Gilbert
CATALOGUE NO: DG 477 9359

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With her impeccably beautiful tone and Vogue-cover elegance Anne-Sophie Mutter could simply play safe as a top-earning concerto soloist. But one thing Mutter can’t resist is a challenge. Over the years she’s persuaded numerous composers to write concertos for her, and in their different ways  they’ve all provided dazzling vehicles for her amazing virtuosity.

This CD contains two of them. Wolfgang Rihm’s single-movement Lichtes Spiel has a tone of hushed incandescence, shot through with memories of Richard Strauss and Berg. Mutter plays with a lovely, rapturous tone, of a kind one rarely hears from her in more conventional repertoire. The ending, which seems to withdraw into the heights, is rendered by soloist and orchestra with perfect grace.

Time Machines by Sebastian Currier is a more substantial, multi-movement affair. Kurtág’s gaunt processionals are recalled, as is Ligeti’s quicksilver moto perpetuo style. And yet, overall, the piece strikes a distinctive tone, the sequence of etched miniatures cleverly planned to suggest a developing narrative. Mutter seizes on the music’s intriguing way of juxtaposing glacial slowness and dancing energy, and the orchestra under Alan Gilbert is equally deft.

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Sandwiched between the Concertos are two enjoyable duets for violin and double bass, by Rihm and Krzysztof Penderecki, in which Mutter’s brilliance meets its match in bass player Roman Patkoló. Ivan Hewett