Sibelius, Bart—k, Stravinsky, Ravel, Berg, Lutoslawski, Penderecki, Rihm & Moret

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COMPOSERS: Bartok,Berg,Lutoslawski,Penderecki,Ravel,Rihm & Moret,Sibelius,Stravinsky
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Back to the Future
WORKS: 20th-century violin works
PERFORMER: Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Phillip Moll, Lambert Orkis (piano); various orchestras & conductors
CATALOGUE NO: 463 790-2 Reissue (1988-97)
Anne-Sophie Mutter is using the first year of the new century to take stock of the violin’s legacy from the old, touring Europe with a series of concerts that surveys the last 100 years, and bundling together a decade of her DG recordings to create the same kind of retrospective on disc. Some of the pieces here – by Sibelius, Bartók, Stravinsky and Berg – are uncontentious masterworks, all staples of the repertoire by now, and I would add both Lutoslawski’s Partita and Chain 2, independent works that the composer linked into a concert sequence especially for Mutter, and Rihm’s eloquent rhapsody, Gesungene Zeit, to that pantheon too. The future for Penderecki’s mawkish Metamorphosen and Norbert Moret’s hopelessly diffuse En rêve is far less secure. But Mutter presents them all, the good works and the poorer ones, with the same passionate commitment and fabulous technical command. If her account of the Sibelius Concerto is a bit slow to catch fire, the Stravinsky and Berg especially are as good as that of any recent versions on CD. There’s intellectual grip as well as fiercely characterised playing everywhere; the occasional quality of the music apart, this is a quartet of CDs without a dull moment. Andrew Clements