Korngold Violin Concerto Op 35; Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Op 35

Second time round for Mutter’s Tchaikovsky, and romance is in the air

Author: 
Edward Greenfield

KORNGOLD Violin Concerto Op 35. TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto Op 35

  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

Was it just coincidence that Korngold followed Tchaikovsky in giving his D major Violin Concerto the opus number 35? Passionate works both, they make a good if unexpected coupling. Anne-Sophie Mutter suggests that since she taped the Tchaikovsky in concert with Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic in 1988, her study of contemporary music has influenced her interpretation. That comes as a surprise: her freedom of expression in this new account, perhaps fostered by recording the piece live with her husband conducting, suggests rather a move towards greater romanticism.

Some may find Mutter’s spontaneous-sounding approach too extreme; Itzhak Perlman’s live recording from 1990, has steadier tempi and rather less in the way of rubato. The natural warmth of Mutter’s playing, however, enhanced by a phenomenal range of tone-colours, makes for a magnetic interpretation. She observes the brief statutory cuts in the semiquaver passage-work of the finale, but does not play the second half of the main reprise in the slow movement an octave higher, as some do.

Mutter describes Korngold’s Concerto as the music of love, and she inflects the ripe melodies drawn from the composer’s Hollywood film-scores in an almost improvisatory fashion. The depth of her playing at the end of the slow movement is magical and her virtuosity in the dashing finale is breathtaking.

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