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Anne-Sophie Mutter/Kurt Masur/New York Philharmonic
BEETHOVEN: VIOLIN CONCERTO, ROMANCES
(DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON)

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This new recording of the Beethoven Concerto is a technical marvel. The gorgeous silken tone Mutter produces at either end of her violinís range attests to her mastery of the instrument. Everything is precisely in tune. And Masur has the New Yorkers sounding better than they have in years. The strings have a warm full sound, but he never lets them cover the glow of the brass or the character of the winds. Everything about this recording has a deep, luxuriant sound that you feel almost guilty reveling in.

Interpretation is another matter. Mutter will slow down at a cadence or at the top of an upward run, as if to point out all the gorgeous violin playing thatís taking place. Target notes are approached with a slide from below, church-choir style. In the Allegro non troppo, she takes so much freedom with the (already slow) tempos that the movement begins to lose its shape. This pushing and pulling is probably meant to make her reading sound searching and profound, but more often than not it just comes off as affected. (And what happened to the pizzicato in the Rondo?) That Masur manages to keep the orchestra with her is a testament to his skill. The same impulses permeate the Romances, albeit less intrusively.

Mutter may indeed be a great violinist, but on the evidence of this recording, sheís not yet a great musician.

BY DAVID WEININGER

Issue Date: October 24 - October 31, 2002
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