I first saw violinist Ann-Sophie Mutter in Montreal, April 1985. She performed Beethoven s violin concerto with the Orchestre Symphonie de Montreal. It was an amazing performance for the rising violin star 2 months prior to her 22nd birthday. I went to the concert because it was my first time in Montreal and I thought it would be nice to see the symphony. Mutter received standing ovations and played an encore.
That was a young artist who had made her debut with Herbert von Karajan at age 14. Under the mentorship of von Karajan, at age 15 she recorded both the Beethoven Violin Concerto and the Beethoven Triple Concerto with a young Yo-Yo Ma.
In Vancouver last week, Mutter played Beethoven s violin concerto to a sold out audience. She stunned the crowd with the exquisite phrasing and tone of her violin playing. After the first movement, she smiled to the audience. She was happy, and it showed as she swayed to the music with her eyes closed, wrapping the wonderful playing of the VSO around her in a musical embrace.
Mutter really believes that the violin concerto is not simply a showcase for solo violin, but a collaborative dialogue with the orchestra. She really worked at creating a balance, watching conductor Bramwell Tovey for cues, as he watched her. The audience was very appreciative, listening so intently and quietly that you felt all attention was on Mutter's violin. And it should be… every note was perfect. But it wasn't just the technical brillance that Mutter is famous for, nor her drop dead gorgeous strapless evening gowns she wears. It was for her playing, that you could soak up each note and cadenza. To me, it's like being enthralled.
Her only other previous performance in Vancouver had been in 1989. I was there in the 2nd row, absolutely enthralled. It's the only way I can describe her performance. You absorb up every note and the music vibrates dances in it's aura.
In 2002, I drove down to Seattle to see Mutter perform at Seattle's Benaroya Hall for a concert recital with her favorite accompanist Lambert Orkis. After the concert I was one of the few who made our way downstairs to the Green Room to have cd's signed. There weren't many people in line, so we were able to have a short conversation and I invited her back to Vancouver, reminding her that so many people had looked forward to a planned 1995 recital that she had been cancelled due to her pregnancy. She seemed pleased that we had traveled down from Vancouver to see her, and she said she would love to get back back to Vancouver.
On Friday night in Vancouver, there were probably two hundred people in front of the line for signings, at the Orpheum. Even after signing autographs for 45 minutes, she was still ever so gracious. Definitely my favorite concert violinist.
Very strange… in my music collection, I have the most Mutter cd's in the my classical collection, and Bruce Springsteen is the largest collection in pop/rock. And I see them both in the same week.