Anne-Sophie Mutter with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra: a music review by Victor Grynberg

June 19, 2018 by Victor Grynberg
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On her third visit in just six years, arguably the world’s leading violinist, Anne-Sophie Mutter clearly wanted to share her ability with a delighted Sydney audience.

Anne-Sophie Mutter, David Robertson and the SSO           Pic Robert Catto

Before playing the crowd favourite Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, she commenced with a self-commissioned work, “Markings, for violin , strings and harp” by famed movie music composer John Williams.

Unlike the soaring and dramatic themes Williams is famous for, this is an atonal piece, that nonetheless appeals to the listener . and acts as an appetiser for the grand course about to be served.

Tchaikovsky first wrote this for Josif Kotek who refused to play it as the premiere, the year before in Vienna by Jewish violinist Adolph Brodsky had received scathing reviews. He then  dedicated this concerto to the another Jewish Violinist Leopold Auer, (one of the greatest ever ) who famously took an immediate dislike to this piece and refused to play it.

Years later Auer recanted, apologised to Tchaikovsky shortly before the great composer’s death and was forgiven.

Despite the technical challenges in playing this piece, and its early poor reviews this concerto stands at the summit of popular concertos, with Brahms, Bruch, Beethoven and Mendelssohn.

So to hear it played to absolute perfection by Miss Mutter, superbly aided by an energized SSO led by  a super-enthusiastic Chief Conductor David Robertson literally brought the house down.

Her Stradivarius radiated with warm sounds, never a jarring note or harshness no matter how she increased the volume to ride over her orchestra.

Very graciously as the audience was clapping her performance with great enthusiasm , she turned to the orchestra and clearly was very appreciative of the support they had given her.

To the delight of the audience ( and the musicians on stage ) Miss Mutter played an encore of a Johann Sebastian Bach partita. Bach is a favourite for the  encores of so many visiting violinists. We’ve had several excellent ones in Sydney these last few years, but when Miss Mutter plays, you can understand why celebrated Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin classifies her as the best in the world.

As if the audience hadn’t been spoilt already a major treat then followed. Accompanied by the full Orchestra, Miss Mutter finished the concert with the beautiful, haunting title track of “Schindler’s List”.

A piece of music that moves every  listener. Written by the same John Williams whose atonal “Markings “ had opened the second half of the concert,   the significance of a German violinist playing this was well noted

Wisely the SSO had not played the concerto in it’s usual first half slot.

That honour went to a Symphony last played in Sydney 72 years prior .

Kalinnikov’s Symphony No.1.

A work most probably unfamiliar to the vast majority of the audience, yet nonetheless a symphony whose melodiousness makes it immediately appealing.

Kalinnikov died at age 35, like many composers of the 18th and 19th centuries whose deaths in their 30s robbed the world of receiving more of their  great music.

Conductor Robertson led a strong orchestra, notably aided in recent years by virtuoso Concertmaster Andrew Haveron , to perform this piece enthusiastically . With both woodwinds and brass playing important roles, the symphony was very well received.  Locals can  be very proud of their SSO.

After an evening of great music the audience left the hall buzzing with delight, and this was  proof that when executed well there is nothing to beat a live performance.

5 Stars

Anne-Sophie Mutter plays the Tchaikovsky with the MSO at Hamer Hall , Melbourne , this Saturday night.

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