Anne Sophie Mutter

September 27, 2007 at 11:46 PM · Has anyone else noticed how in recent years Anne Sophie Mutter's playing has become very mannered and gimmicky? I think the rot set in with the Beethoven Sonatas. Very quirky. For example suddenly switching off vibrato for long stretches.Not to mention tempo changes!!Yesterday heard her playing one of the beautiful Brahms Hungarian Dances. Absolutely ruined it with nasty slow slides and"hiccups" in the tempo.This was for me the last straw!!She used to be one of my favourites.


September 27, 2007 at 11:46 PM · I do think she is an artist, and she has gone in a direction that is rather off the charts. If we can have this conversation about her art without attacking her personally or trying to totally diminish all her considerable accomplishments for the violin, then we can have this conversation. If not, I'll shut the thread down.

September 28, 2007 at 12:32 AM · I attended her concert in Chicago last year, and she was great. However, I read somewhere last year (in a German newspaper?) saying that she was going to retire in a couple of years. I wonder whether she's trying to explore something she's never tried before she retires?

September 28, 2007 at 01:29 AM · You say "the rot set in" with the Beethoven sonatas, and then mention what you consider issues, like switching the vibrato off, or jerking the tempo around.

I'll tell you, when I heard the Beethoven sonatas, I wasn't thinking about things like that at all. I was enjoying the music and letting an overall impression form. I wasn't thinking of minute parts of it. I think you are complaining about unusual bricks and ignoring her building, which depends on those particular bricks. I don't own it, but if I was going to buy another classical CD it would be that one. If something that happens to be more typical does it for you, then buy it instead. This isn't how you've been trained or conditioned to be unfortunately. Your approach is why sometimes I ask myself where is the music in classical music. I don't think your kind of thinking predominates, but it's common. And don't condemn something just because it's untypical.

September 28, 2007 at 12:55 AM · I found these interesting interviews between ASM and Charlie rose. She discusses the Beethoven Sonatas in the first one.

September 28, 2007 at 04:21 AM · "You might be right on second thought, those gypsy slides really fit in Beethoven perfectly "

They did for her and I, and we lived happily ever after :)

But seriously, weren't there monkeys riding unicycles or something during intermission at the premere of the Beethoven concerto? Isn't sliding highly natural on the violin? Might not gypsy slides somehow factor into Beethoven for a moment? Not his present essence, but some kind of pure or timeless essence? Dunno, just asking. I think the real questions are along the lines of does it truly make the music not work. If she's using rubato where it's never been heard by anyone living, then I just listen, I don't assume she's doing it because she's in love with herself, or because thinks she can get by with it, or wants to make controversy, or because she started to "rot." :) I just listen, and in her case, for me, the musical result was really captivating.

September 28, 2007 at 04:52 AM · Anyone know when she will release her performance of Gubaidulina´s second Violin concerto?

Would be very interesting to hear.

Anyone know someone who seen it live?

September 28, 2007 at 11:18 AM · Anne Sophie Mutter is daring to go where others have not gone. The rigid performance practice that we have all become used to hearing was a relatively recent development from the twentieth century. I am no historian but I believe that violinists of the past felt much more able to explore their vision of the music. Sometimes Mutter's concept of the music might differ from some of her listeners but it seems to me that it is wonderful that she is trying to bring new ideas into the interpretation of old standards. We all have performed the same pieces over and over again. Sometimes I feel that I am getting stale in certain parts of my repertoire. I am challenged by Ms. Mutter to explore and rethink everything, from tempos to vibrato.

September 28, 2007 at 10:40 AM · I haven't heard her play recently and don't have an opinion. Wheteher one likes anyone's playing seems highly subjective. I am just thinking if there is a way to come to terms with how much liberty is one's artistic expression and when it crossed the line to become gimmicky without serving an artistic goal. Since I don't know much about the new approach, it would help me greatly if each side could elaborate a little what effectes her new approach brings to the piece and how the result in the context of the piece dis/satisfies the listener. Thank you.


September 28, 2007 at 12:27 PM · I have never particularly liked her interpretations, particularly the Beethoven sonatas. That said, there is no question that she is very talented.

September 28, 2007 at 02:00 PM · Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

— Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

September 28, 2007 at 02:04 PM · "I am no historian but I believe that violinists of the past felt much more able to explore their vision of the music."

Most important is that they composed a lot more.

How many of todays virtuosos do actually compose?

September 28, 2007 at 01:45 PM · "Anne Sophie Mutter is daring to go where others have not gone. " Thank you, Lawrence - just the words I was looking for.

It's not often that you hear someone really searching for their OWN vision / interpretation of the music, especially in the traditional repertoire. It's easier to get away with in new music, where a tradition of interpretation has not [yet] been established.

Whatever one might think of the interpretations she comes up with, I don't think anyone would accuse her of being thoughtless or show-off-y about it. She's certainly a thinker, and to me that can be a lot more interesting than someone who just sets their tone on "gorgeous" and comes back in half an hour to see if the piece is done yet.

Depending on how much of the individual's personality you think should be allowed to show through, she (or anyone else) could be considered either "individual" or "self-indulgent;" if someone's individuality doesn't come through as much, is that "musical integrity" or "lack of vision?" We all draw the line at different places on the spectrum.

I guess if you want to buy any of her more recent recordings, it's probably best to listen to snippets on Amazon first to see if you'll like it, because whatever she does, it probably won't be boring...

September 28, 2007 at 03:54 PM · It just happens that she is playing Brahams with us tonite in Toronto - the rehearsal was beautiful. It seems she used to play here fairly often years ago but not so much recently. My very favorite performance ever of the Beethoven was the first time she came and played it with us here - has to be at least 20+ years ago(since I joined the TS in 1975) I remember it being absolutely flawless and smooth, just pure music no showing off at all. Pure class.

It seems to me she is a bit more aggressive at times since then but never in a bad way to my ear. Lt's hard to judge objectively if it's her style in general of just her interpretation of what she is playing. I would love her to do the Beethoven with us again, it would be very interesting and I am sure great.

Certainly she has grown gracefully into a mature woman and artist and is still as classy as ever. We are very happy to have her with us for this concert.

September 28, 2007 at 05:23 PM · Anne Sophie Mutter is one of the only musicians I hear today who dares to do things which allow the music to breath. I think it's completely necessary and with the type of criticism she gets by people who are uncomfortable with the freedom she gives the music (it's to me very much like a bunch of old gabby women in church complaining about someone with long hair or someone who wears shorts or flip flips or who knows what they go on about) only shows how necessary it is.

Jacqueline Du Pres got the same criticisms so does

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenburg

I think people complain about the weather the same way (it shouldn't have the rubato it does and everything should stay at an even keel...etc.)

September 28, 2007 at 10:00 PM · I have to admit I haven't heard her new stuff, and now that I've read this thread, I'm very curious to listen.

Mr. Reid--I'm wondering if you know my teacher Geoffrey Trabichoff? He was also a student of Sascha Lasserson. I suppose we share a similar lineage (though I am one generation removed).

September 29, 2007 at 01:05 AM · I'm going to start deleting the ridiculous self-promotional posts from Skowronski when I see them. I think everyone has ample opportunity for self-promotion on this site. He can post a track to "In Concert" if he wants us all to hear his music so badly.

And back to this thread, I wonder how many times Anne-Sofie M has played the Beethoven, and how many times she played it relatively "straight" before beginning to experiment with it.

And I wonder how many people on the planet have played the Beethoven for packed houses across the world as many times as she has.

September 29, 2007 at 01:23 AM · Laurie the posts are from the staff at S: CR not Himself.

September 29, 2007 at 02:30 AM · Nate Robinson wrote:

"So what you are essentially saying is it is okay to ignore "small" details like the tempo markings, articulations, and period the work was written? You might be right on second thought, those gypsy slides really fit in Beethoven perfectly - perhaps even better than in the Ziguenerweisen."

To begin with, it's a bunch of mallarcy that anyone knows exactly what was accepted as the style of the period that Beethoven's music was written. Added to that there are enough written accounts of his playing where people describe him doing things with tempo (and thus tempo markings) which now adays would be considered completely 100% out of style. What we are left with is a reaction against what was deemed a romantic style of playing and then saying that it is out of style to play music in a manner which was closer to the "romantic" style of playing than the objective adhering to any small tid bit of an excuse to play like a machine which is prevalent on the concert stage today.

Mozart is reduced to a preppy sounding hyper kid wanting to get a star from his piano teacher for the lesson. Beethoven is reduced to a boring sounding academic with grandiose ideas. Bach is reduced to sounding like a co-depenant utilitarian whose music meanders on to much. The whole romantic period is reduced to sounding like a bunch of bravura desiring maniacs.....This is what I hear too often with the "objective" approach.

Also, music is meant to speak to the soul. It isn't meant as a test as to whether a person has adhered to what is written on the page as one would expect a machine to. In fact, one of the major turn offs for classical music seems to be that people – with the elitist, techno-perfect-mania that is prevalant to some listeners at large – don't want to hear the way it is performed. A friend of mine and her husband have done experiments with audiences whether they want to hear the strict style of playing of the more free style of playing and the people who at first were adverse to classical music liked it when it was played in a more free manner, and it would appear that the completely sterile way classical music is so often played is a complete turn off. Of course to sit and judge whether a person played everything as should be and watch classical music decline, orchestras and opera houses go bankrupt and maintain that that is how things should be, this is a very strange form of objectivism.

September 29, 2007 at 03:55 AM · Nate--oh, is THAT why they're always in third person?! It's not really Skowronski talking?

With regards to Anne-Sophie, while her idiosyncrasies do often make me cringe, I nevertheless applaud her decisions to look for fresh and individual approaches rather than just playing everything the way everybody else does. I'd rather have an interpretation to disagree with than a bland repackaging of the Standard Way of Doing Things.

EDIT after a long and frustrating discussion: "cringe" was a very poor and unnecessarily derogatory choice of word on my part. Anne-Sophie, I apologize. Basically all I meant to say was that although I personally do not care for many of her interpretations, I applaud her for HAVING her own interpretations. I hope that's clear and inoffensive enough now!!!

September 29, 2007 at 02:26 AM · Roelof, there's a difference between having an individual approach to a piece and just plain playing it wrong. Of course the Artist must put something of himself into a performance, imbue each phrase with meaning and emotion...but you still have to follow the composer's intent on such basic matters as tempo, dynamics, articulation etc.!!!

Like Enescu once said: "You must learn to dance in chains."

September 29, 2007 at 02:36 AM · Hello,

Anne-Sophie Mutter is in my opinion completely secure in her violin playing that she can and is able to do as she pleases with the music. It is her interpretation and she puts it forth for the world to hear, the main thing here is that she must like what she did or she probably wouldnt have released it.

I applaud her for doing so, most of the players today dont do this and as another poster said they just keep doing the standard way of playing.

I look forward to more of her music and hope that she doesnt completely retire from giving concerts. RW

September 29, 2007 at 02:42 AM · Mara, in the time period that most of the music you are refering to was written, there was much more allowing for changes. One was even allowed to change the harmonies in the romantic period (I wouldn't even think about changing the harmonies of a Chopin piece). Embellishments were allowed pretty much wherever you wanted them in the Baroque and the Classical.

We're not even talking about any of that.

I do find it pretty strange that people stress adherence to style in the classical period and yet everyone just about skips the repeat at the end of the recapitulation in any Mozart Sonata or Symphony. I don't like that one bit, it sounds someone is grabbing something and running off with it when the return to the tonic isn't repeated, and the whole organic unity between the themes and the way the Sonata form resembles a good debate (with two points of view which are resolved) is to me distorted.

It would not be helpful to ignore all the expressional marking at all and they should be given careful attention, but to stifle the very essence of music in making them out to be more important than communication is not helpful one bit.

September 29, 2007 at 02:45 AM · A machine in this time could play all the notes, all the markings, could be made to make all the tempo changes and fluctuations that so many say the score says the piece should have, and in essence could to everything "correct."

When human beings are reduced to being products themselves and expected to play in such a manner (and their playing is considered wrong when they don't play in such a manner), you can know for sure there is something wrong.

A person can't even become aware of what is written on the page when they are not allowed emotional expression.

September 29, 2007 at 02:51 AM · I 'really' don't mean to sound disrespectful, but this conversation is hilarious to me, as I struggle with every cell in my body to do a good crescendo across strings and slurred notes ;).

'ok, I got it once, now let's try again!' Deep breath--relax--PRAY!

September 29, 2007 at 02:51 AM · how do you know what time period of music I was referring to? It's a general principle: if the composer takes the trouble to put in specific dynamic, tempo, articulation and phrasing indications, the performer has a responsibility to follow them. (Bartok was especially picky about this, and Chopin always used to get annoyed at Liszt for taking too many liberties with his (Chopin's) music.) There is still plenty of room for individual expression within the boundaries set by the composer.

September 29, 2007 at 03:03 AM · All the more irresponsible. He should watch what is written in his name. From my e-mails, he has really annoyed a large contingent of his colleagues on this site! I'm deleting his membership; it's one thing to actually contribute to the community and another to just constantly spam the site.

September 29, 2007 at 02:55 AM · Oh wow, I've just seen your second post, Roelof. I must say you're being quite extreme. You comment that expecting performers to generally follow the composer's wishes with regards to fundamental things like dynamics, tempo and articulation reduces people to "products," who are "not allowed individual expression." Sir, that is utter nonsense.

"To learn to dance in chains" is one of the hallmarks of a real artist. It's so much EASIER to ignore the composer's intentions and just play all over the place to whatever whim and fancy flits through one's mind, producing an incoherent, overwrought performance only loosely related to what the composer actually wrote, and then defend one's carelessness by saying "This is how the music speaks to me! How DARE you stifle my creativity!" It takes a lot more musical sophistication to be expressive while still PLAYING WHAT THE COMPOSER WROTE.

September 29, 2007 at 03:19 AM · "There is still plenty of room for individual expression within the boundaries set by the composer. "

Only if they're open to individual interpetation. Which translates to leaving Anne Sophie alone.

September 29, 2007 at 03:22 AM · Mara wrote: "Oh wow, I've just seen your second post, Roelof. I must say you're being quite extreme. You comment that expecting performers to generally follow the composer's wishes with regards to fundamental things like dynamics, tempo and articulation reduces people to "products," who are "not allowed individual expression.""

I didn't say that at all. I said that stressing the "objective" part of the music to such an extent that people's playing approaches what a machine could have done is not any composers intention, it also seems to turn people off to classical music in a way which is compromising it's survival. I also said that allowing for expression is what unlocks what the expressional markings are there for and what they refer to that a machine perhaps couldn't do.

Further more, I don't find that Anne Sophie Mutter has "idiosyncracies" in her playing. I think her playing sounds completely natural and human. I think she inspires many people and I certainly don't cringe at anything she does.

September 29, 2007 at 03:24 AM · I'm NOT stressing the "objective" part of music, I'm insisting that people (yes, living, organic, un-mentally-medicated, wholesome human beings) have enough respect for the composers to not cavalierly toss aside their markings and indications whenever they feel like. Try out your arguments on Mr. Vitek, let's see how THAT goes.

Incidentally, I see that once again I have committed the unforgivable crime of stating that I personally do not care for a particular artist's playing. Let the record show that I meant no offense or insult whatsoever to Anne-Sophie, whom I very much respect; her playing just usually isn't my cup of tea.

September 29, 2007 at 04:42 AM · Now, and Anne Sophie Mutter for me has done something completely beyond anything one can put objectively about music. She has gotten to know what a phrase is, how it moves, how it creates a moving forward, a letting go, how it exists in time and yet exists beyond the boundaries of time it is heard and reaches towards the part of the human soul which is eternal and she has done this by allowing her humanity to become part of the music rather than pushing it to the side so that others won't criticize her for being too idiosyncratic, too indulgent or what have you.

September 29, 2007 at 03:37 AM · Jim, composers (or good ones perhaps) very much want individual interpretation and do and should leave the performer alone to attain a personal relationship with the composition.

So I agree with your remark about leaving Anne Sophie alone.

September 29, 2007 at 03:35 AM · As usual you are completely misunderstanding me and misrepresenting my viewpoint. I would NEVER advocate anything like "pushing one's humanity to the side" in making music. And can I AGAIN say that I was not "criticizing Anne-Sophie for being too idiosyncratic"? In fact, if you'll look back at my first post on this topic, you will see that I in fact COMMENDED her for her searches for individual and fresh interpretations. The fact that I often do not care for the individual interpretations she comes up with is nothing more than my own personal taste and opinion and does nothing to diminish her stature as an artist and musician, nor do I intend it to.

September 29, 2007 at 03:38 AM · Mara I never said anything about cavierly tossing aside markings at all.

Perhaps you should go to bed by now if you think I said things I didn't and should have some argument with your teacher (not my teacher and not the teacher of the leaves on the trees or the color of your wall paper).

September 29, 2007 at 03:43 AM · "the teacher of the leaves on the trees and the color of your wallpaper"? Sorry, but what on earth does that mean? And you wonder why I have trouble understanding you?

September 29, 2007 at 03:49 AM · RB, I was thinking boundries set by others for a composer who is dead, but you're right too. And I agree with your assessment of what she's doing, because that's exactly what it sounds like to me. And honestly, when she gets what she gets, who even cares what the composer's intent was? I wouldn't tell her to stop :)

September 29, 2007 at 03:47 AM · &*&@$#, I give up...this is ridiculous. I AM going to bed.

September 29, 2007 at 03:58 AM · When the chix leave, the guys just start watching TV.

September 29, 2007 at 04:02 AM · I guess it's time to start working on those string crossings again! ;)

September 29, 2007 at 04:15 AM · Anne Sophie Mutter. She’s got passion, discipline, technique, lush sound, enormous experience in performance, and most of all, her music is thought provoking. A truly great artist she is!

September 29, 2007 at 05:22 AM · Just to let it stand: what I said here

"Now, and Anne Sophie Mutter for me has done something completely beyond anything one can put objectively about music. She has gotten to know what a phrase is, how it moves, how it creates a moving forward, a letting go, how it exists in time and yet exists beyond the boundaries of time it is heard and reaches towards the part of the human soul which is eternal and she has done this by allowing her humanity to become part of the music rather than pushing it to the side so that others won't criticize her for being too idiosyncratic, too indulgent or what have you."

This is what I think of Anne Sophie Mutter's playing because that's what I think of her playing. It has nothing to do with Mara at all and I'm not misrepresenting nor misunderstanding her viewpoint when I compliment Anne.

Neither are the leaves on the trees...

The color of the wall paper and

Neither is Petrouchka when the puppet master thinks he's supposed to "dance in chains."

September 29, 2007 at 05:33 AM · Could it be that we are judging the wrong "thing"? I've recently heard a fragment of the Tchaikovsky concerto and Beethoven's Spring Sonata, played by ASM. When I heard it, the first struck me as marvellous, and the second as rather ridiculous. Next time, it could be different. Music is moments, not names.

She obviously struggles to find meaning in the music she plays. Sometimes one has to go wildly wrong in order to find what is right.

September 29, 2007 at 06:28 AM · Yes, sometimes you hear something and think it's ridiculous and you're completely wrong. Sometimes someone plays something ridiculous and...then what are you (out 16 dollars for the CD I suppose).

So the moral is give the CD to someone else and get a taste for the ridiculous in life....

Cause sometimes you just have to be wildly wrong in order to find what is right.

Like this post for example...

September 29, 2007 at 10:46 AM · At Ms. Mutter's current stage of career, I'm very happy to see her take artistic risks and grow even further as an artist.

I always admired her alot from the Karajan days. She was wonderful, but there was "something" missing. I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was, but it almost felt like alot of her artistic influence was driven by Karajan's ideas.

Then starting with her Berlin Recital CD, I started noticing a transformation. This transformation from "performing the music" to "becoming the music".

Whether or not one agrees with her views, I confess my admiration for someone who is willing to try something out of the ordinary. There were times that I haven't agreed with her on everything, but I am always awestruck by her performances.

As for the on and off vibrato playing, I don't have a problem with it. I think it's unique. Both Gitlis and Mutter sometimes feel that "no vibrato" if done really well and with precise intonation, can add a subtle white-hot itensity that can be missing at other times.

She is also a brilliant "business-minded" artist who knows and understands the importance of PR, Marketing and relationship building. She has taken the idea of brand management (a concept in marketing used by big corporations like Sony, Disney, McDonalds, IBM, etc) and transferred it to "branding" herself.

When presenters, audiences, and record companies go after her, it is because of her the Anne-Sophie Mutter Brand. She is one of the most successful "entrepreneurs" in the classical music business.

Did you know that she has her own corporation? Mutter-Previn Enterprises. The head of Public Relations at her company is her brother.

Anyhow, with all that luminous palette of colours and inner fire, you can never accuse Ms. Mutter of being boring! :)

September 29, 2007 at 10:57 AM · Well said Mr Song!


PS: I also find ASM a stunningly beautiful woman - not that this influences my admiration of her...

much. ;)

PPS: I think the person of third-person-speak fame has a staff of 1, i.e that would be himself. Way to go Laurie!

September 29, 2007 at 12:12 PM · Roelof...your Petrushka analogy is terrible with regards to that quote...I would spell it out but I already have a headache as is.

Once again, for the record, I was not slamming, flaming or even criticizing Anne-Sophie. Surely I am allowed my own personal taste in musical interpretation, and surely I am allowed the free speech to comment that a particular artist's stylistic choices are often not my cup of tea. I still have a lot of respect for her artistic individualism, her mastery of the instrument, and let's be honest, her terrific fashion sense. :)

September 29, 2007 at 12:40 PM · I'm listening right now ASM Beethoven Violin Concerto recording (with NYphil and Masur). Sometimes I like to put some CD of her to remember why I like her playing so much. There have been few violin players in the last 50 years with such a unique approach to their performances and recordings. You will like it or not, but what she does is share her personal view of the music in a deeply honest way. I am totally agree about she changed her play for the last years (I think I almost have all her recordings). But is that not nice and particular in human being lifes? People change because life changes and the music that we play change with us. Ms ASM has had a great but also sad life. I could totally understand that her playing changed depending of the different periods of her life. For me her playing (recording sound)started changing started with her first recording with Masur and NYPhil, with the Brahms Concerto (right after the death of her first husband). After that recording she started exploring that "Anne-Sophie sound". You will like or not but I am happy to say that is beautiful to listen the radio and know in less than one minute that she is the one playing. What a great thing!

September 29, 2007 at 01:20 PM · You can find some of her beethoven performances on youtube and I love the use of non-vibrato in places, personally. She can pull it off.

September 29, 2007 at 04:45 PM · Anyone have any firsthand reports of her performance of Gubaidulina´s second violin concert?

I have one found one review so far (In German) and I don´t speak German.

September 29, 2007 at 05:37 PM · ***Anyone have any firsthand reports of her performance of Gubaidulina´s second violin concert?

I have one found one review so far (In German) and I don´t speak German.****

I speak German. Where did you find it?

September 29, 2007 at 11:42 PM · Nate Robinson wrote:

"Mara wrote, "Roelof, there's a difference between having an individual approach to a piece and just plain playing it wrong."

I couldn't agree more. A "different" approach is not necessarily a contribution to the recorded repertoire. You can still be individual without disregarding tempo markings. I think in a lot of cases violinists often forget that they are not the composers! "

The material I have read of written accounts of Beethoven's playing says that he also made fluctuation within tempo markings (or as Nate would say disregarded Tempo Markings) to enhance the growth of a phrase or section or point out the evolution of a theme. So who is the composer here Nate or Beethoven.

And also Mara YOU are not Enescu and I find your use of his quote quite disruptive to what he was trying to say. That was a reaction to a style of playing which was as disruptive to the message of the music coming through as is the "objective" style one hears now adays so often is (they play as if they ar being damned I think is a quote from Rostropovich). He (Enescu) was simply portraying that getting to know the notes and articulation marks with more attention to detail then was prevalent then made someone feel as if they were in chains but then they learned to dance when the closer attention to detail became part of them. Today it seems as if people often glorify never getting past putting themselves in chains and the emotional spiritual communication of the music is overlooked while a person is sure they did everything right because they can back it up by pointing to the page and ignore how much they turn others off to classical music. I knew very well that quote by Enescu and what he meant by it before you ever brought it up and don't need you warping it out of context. In fact you left out half of what he said. He said you learn to dance while being in chains refering to how it first felt to adhere to what the composer had written down in a way which wasn't popular at the time and that after the discomfort one learned how to dance.

September 29, 2007 at 11:30 PM · Why thank you Roelof, for reminding me that I am NOT, in fact, George Enescu. I had forgotten.

September 29, 2007 at 11:36 PM · I just finished listening to ASM playing the Beethoven Sonatas and really enjoyed it. The nonvibrato section is certainly unusual and I'm not quite decided about whether or not it is truly appropriate or not. But it is consistently applied, thought out, and approached artistically. And then she plays it with some fire - always good to see.

One can certainly argue that it isn't really Beethoven, but I'm not sure I'm there yet.

There are other musicians who do something quirky, but don't apply it consistently. It's like someone making a reasonable argument, then suddenly saying something just plain wrong, like the sky is purple, for no good reason.

For me, I was never interested in her playing from the 80's. I have changed my opinion and am definitely interested in listening to her now.

September 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM · Mara, you're very clearly not interested in a decent conversation and I am starting to find your responses abusive. Do NOT respond to my posts anymore.

September 30, 2007 at 12:03 AM · I'm quite interested in a decent conversation. Frankly, I've found some of your responses a bit on the abusive side. Nevertheless, I apologize for the offense I have obviously (and unintentionally) caused you.

September 30, 2007 at 12:44 AM · Mara I don't know what to say because it seems we actually agree with eachother but are argueing different approaches that are both necessary to the same thing.

September 30, 2007 at 12:48 AM · Probably, yes.

September 30, 2007 at 12:55 AM · Terry, quite a few years ago I listened to her playing and found it a bit strange myself although I felt I didn't understand it (and I had never heard Beethoven played that way). Now I love her playing, Incidently, she is very much admiring Clara Haskil who would have a different approach than hers perhaps but she still loves 100% Clara's sense of phrasing.

This is from Mutter's site

"ANNE-SOPHIE MUTTER: Hearing a recording of Clara Haskil when I was six. For me her style of playing Mozart has always been superior to anybody else's. The lightness of touch, the delicacy of phrasing, the unforced flow, with nothing over-romanticized. The beauty of her sound seemed to me what Mozart himself always looked for, and what he always mentioned in his letters to his father when he found a player who was able to convey strong emotion with a beautiful sound."

September 30, 2007 at 01:04 AM · I've been following this discussion for a while with a mixture of exasperation and dejection. Exasperation with Roelof's rhetorical, convoluted and occasionally incomprehensible novellas and dejection, yet again, that it is for people like that - seemingly incapable of actual musical perception - that violinists the world over must play and whom they must seek to engage.

The point, Roelof, is not how Beethoven did or did not play something. After all, we are not in the business of historical recreation. The point is how a piece hangs together. Some things, such as minor tempo fluctuations, do not disturb this. Other things, such as major tempo changes or anachronistic effects or wholesale interjections a la Apap, ruin the overall impression. They overshadow the piece like a pile of garbage in a palace corridor. They are out of character and, as such, destroy artistic coherence. And most of all, they show an unflattering portrait of the performer, revealing as they do a lack of judgment, taste and, most of all, understanding of what a work is about. They aren't bad because Beethoven would or wouldn't have played it that way; such debates are best left in the field of historical accuracy and performance practice. (Moreover, for what it's worth, I'm fairly certain that Nate and Maura will agree with me that performance practice, with its overtones of academia, are not kin to what we seek to do.)

Such glaring moment-killers are bad because they give the lie to a work's character and content. They're bad not because ivory tower eggheads, as Jim would probably portray them, are stuffily opposed to them as Not The Way Things Are Done. They're bad because they occlude perception of the piece by replacing it with a portrait of the performer as a self-centered, tasteless and not terribly musically sensitive person.

Now, I am NOT saying that's what Anne-Sophie Mutter does. But the conversation has long since left her behind and moved on into ideological territory.

September 30, 2007 at 12:58 AM · LOL, well I'll leave that at that.

September 30, 2007 at 12:08 PM · Incidently the whole conversation started when someone responded to the one who started the posts saying that "I think the rot set in with the Beethoven Sonatas" with Anne Sophie Mutter and refering to her tempo changes and other things.

And so this whole remark of Mr. Chudovsky "The point, Roelof, is not how Beethoven did or did not play something. After all, we are not in the business of historical recreation. The point is how a piece hangs together. Some things, such as minor tempo fluctuations, do not disturb this. Other things, such as major tempo changes or anachronistic effects or wholesale interjections a la Apap, ruin the overall impression. They overshadow the piece like a pile of garbage in a palace corridor. They are out of character and, as such, destroy artistic coherence. And most of all, they show an unflattering portrait of the performer, revealing as they do a lack of judgment, taste and, most of all, understanding of what a work is about. They aren't bad because Beethoven would or wouldn't have played it that way; such debates are best left in the field of historical accuracy and performance practice. (Moreover, for what it's worth, I'm fairly certain that Nate and Maura will agree with me that performance practice, with its overtones of academia, are not kin to what we seek to do.)"

Fortuneatly has nothing to do with Anne Sophie Mutter which was the discussion to begin with that she was messing around with the tempi too much and other things.

Also Mr. Chudovsky, some people play for themselves because it is healing and for music and for it's essence itself rather than making sarcastic remarks about others they have decided are seemingly incapable of musical perception because you don't comprehend what they are saying and act like you must engage with them believing it's impossible. or whatever you're talking about. Some people play for themselves and communicate that way without judging whether other's are capable of understanding. And no I really don't need you for me to engage with Beethoven or to tell me how it works.

September 30, 2007 at 01:15 AM · Getting back to Anne Sophie Mutter.

no I don't believe she messes around with the tempi in a disruptive way and I believe she introduces something necessary to the evolution of music by breaking away from the mold.

September 30, 2007 at 02:14 AM · Incidently I had a piano lesson with Chopin through a spiritualist medium (about 17 years ago). Chopin did many interesting things, when I would hesitate while trying to play through a piece and have something in my mind he asked me "why did you stop, you wanted to play this," and then the hand of the medium (while the medium's eyes were closed not even being able to see the keyboard) played the very chord of the passage I was thinking of.

Chopin also was capable of explaining what I was doing with rubato and what it represented for me in the balancing of my life and let me know it was okay although one specific teacher I had had would have criticized it. Chopin also, when I asked him about a certain phrase which recurrs and is a bit different the second time, and was wondering whether it is like Polish grammar (which has 7 different cases and thus a great variety of ways one word can be used), Chopin simply (again without the medium's eyes being open and without touching anything else but that one note) played the one note which pointed out for me to play the recurrence the way it is played the other time so that I played it the wrong way in order to hear why it is that way rather than philosophizing about is.

Chopin also told me not to think about the notes but to allow them to happen so that I understand the music and could actually think about it.

Beethoven incidently did tell me not to try to play things in the way that they used to be played.

Many other's helped me but none of them ever got me so uptight about the process that the music ceased to be the healing miracle that it is!

So Mr. Chudovsky I hope you learn to play for yourself and how the music can be there to help you find harmony in your life because whatever you say about me as if it is real at all can really mean nothing to me, and those who help me certainly don't agree with you.

September 30, 2007 at 01:43 AM · Music is there for anyone and everyone. Someone who has emotional wounds is going to seemingly warp things out of context but that's only because they are searching and can't see. To give them more wounds by going into diatribes about how bad their playing and perceptions are isn't going to help, it won't help them see, and it isn't going to allow music to be what it is meant to be and why it was given to man.

If a person comes into a lesson for example and has a bad day and has difficulty concentrating, when the teacher only fusses at the objective things they aren't capable of concentrating on then there is no teaching going on and what the music could do is thrown out the window. When A person can concentrate then they can see how the music is there to help and how the whole reality of it (with the wonderful enhancement of Tempi, Dynamics, etc.) how this creates a whole harmonious world.

September 30, 2007 at 02:04 AM · It seems as if I can't say the simplest thing about what music is and I am accused of encouraging people to indulge in tasteless excesses, am accused of being seemingly incapable of music perception and all because I trust in something innately human that doesn't need to be inundated with limitations.



Granted it's can be very difficult not to want to express one's frustrations that everything seems completely wrong but try giving someone a little freedom and see that they can see more than you could have pointed out to them and it's truly all right.

September 30, 2007 at 02:22 AM · The glaring moment killers are institutionalized in The Way Things Are Done. On the fringes of TWTAD are those who freak out because vibrato got turned off. Or because they thought they heard a banjo :)

Little kids like any kind of music from any culture, and the idea of quality doesn't exist. Then it progresses to being institutionalized, frankly like everything else. Not a bad thing. At some point if you're thinking seriously you will want to sort it out, and it takes a lot of objectivity to do that.

September 30, 2007 at 02:17 AM · Mr. Chudovsky, to end with I'll add 13 words to something I already said.

So Mr. Chudovsky I hope you learn to play for yourself and how the music can be there to help you find harmony in your life because whatever you say about me as if it is real at all can really mean nothing to me, and those who help me certainly don't agree with you and they would never judge you in such a manner, nor anyone else.

September 30, 2007 at 02:22 AM · Sorry, didn't mean to step in your flow :)

September 30, 2007 at 02:36 AM · Jim. there are like (except for this here post) 30 more slots available. "Must I fill all of them!?"

You could at least get those monkeys out that were riding on unicycles during the first performance of Beethoven's violin concerto

As you said so elegantly "But seriously, weren't there monkeys riding unicycles or something during intermission at the premere of the Beethoven concerto?"

September 30, 2007 at 02:42 AM · Mr. Chudovsky it doesn't matter also. I shouldn't let it bother me and it doesn't

You can hear me on youtube by the way, if you do a search for "Bijkerk" there are two videos comprising all of Bartok's suite for piano opus 14 in my first performance at an old people's home July 25. The brilliant camera work at the end of Bartok's suite is by an amazingly talented artist painter author girl who needs to be recognized.

September 30, 2007 at 02:47 AM · You can look it up. Monkeys on unicycles.

September 30, 2007 at 02:45 AM · A few things:

1. It's not necessary to quote a paragraph, or two, or three, of something someone already said. Or, of something YOU already said. The comments are all up for everyone to read and go back to, if they wish.

2. Saying something 30 times doesn't help you make your point. Saying it once in an intelligible way is all that is required.

3. I find that the person who "wins" an argument on the Internet is not the one who posted the most or got the last comment in. It's the person whose post made the most sense, even if 29 posts after it argue a different point.

4. Sometimes it's good to get off the computer for a some yoga...get a cup of tea...chill....

September 30, 2007 at 03:31 AM · Evolution depends on an organism from the group "mutating" to "deviate" from the group in order to create a change in the evolution of the organism to adapt to an environmental change. Thus the survival of the "species" depends on something which seems "off the charts," "quirky" or many other "perceptions" that something is just too different or wierd.

I am pointing this out because this conversation is about Anne Sophie Mutter and I believe she does exactly that in a way which is allowing perhaps the species called "classical music," to survive. She is doing something which speaks to people and keeps the art alive. In many ways even as Song wrote.

Also Laurie, I don't have photographic memory in a way that I can remember exactly what was said so I clip and paste it rather than expecting people to go looking around for it having to remember where it was for reference.

Also, I have found such a misunderstanding of the simplest thing that I end up responding numerous times because there is so much bias against something considered unusual, when it was already intelligible to those interested in really looking to begin with.

And now, as I wrote to you, that's all the past. There are other places I can go where I can say the simplest things and they are understood immediately without being first spun into a prism of misapprehensions bias and or misunderstanding and when I try to respond to any of it as it is presented I am told that the first response which was clear wasn't intelligible....because it's just too different.

And I don't feel attacked, I'm just saying something, but I'm not going to go on like this here.

September 30, 2007 at 05:13 AM · Since we are discussing what is objective about markings. There's also Debussy.

There was one piece of Debussy I learned in a particular way for some reason. I actually avoided consciously paying attention to the markings for the most part but did make note of how I felt the music took form with attention to expressional nuances. Not until after I had allowed this to happen did I look consciously at the actually markings and noticed I was actually doing what was written and could fill more things in from there rather than having first given a "piano" or a "ritardando" the name "piano" or "ritardando" rather than understanding it as something necessary for the piece to take form as an expressional organism or energy.

I only did this once, but just because it says piano and you play piano doesn't mean you understand what that means as part of what the piece needs to communicate. In fact you could play quiet and it could completely not be what the piece needs because you don't understand it's function, someone else could play forte and it would enhance the structure of the piece more than the "piano" did although the forte would be considered wrong. In that case it might be better to do it wrong to get a notion of what's needed before you can apply the actually marking.

Also, as a composer myself I don't put anything "in stone" so to speak. Someone may unintentionally do something that's not objectively what is written as an expressional marking but it works better than what I put down. I wouldn't think they should change it to what I put down if it doesn't work for them. I don't think one should make a habit of changing everything to make that into a gimmick of artistic freedom but it can happen that something works for someone differently than what's written.

I can't speak objectively for what Anne Sophie Mutter does as to how much she adhere's to what's written down, but I suspect that she actually adhere's more to what's written then some give her credit for. Allowing for movements or Fluctuations of tempo within a tempo marking to enhance the evolution of a theme or a phrase is quite okay. And nowhere does it say in Beethoven don't slide or do or don't do vibrato.

I believe what she does speaks to the heart and that's most important

September 30, 2007 at 07:53 AM · Michael Richwine:

I hope that it will be recorded and released next year.

She will propably only play it live a couple of times.

September 30, 2007 at 09:51 AM · Hi Andreas,

here's the translation. Don't be surprised, that it's a bit of a bad read. The text consists only of empty phrases written in an awful smartypants German. Hard to translate. But after reading this complete thread above, I felt all of a sudden pretty skillfully in translating platitudes, so I gave it a shot:


At the beginning the solo violin pushs up with a seeking, almost beseeching, gesture. Next the orchestra enters with shimmering silvern glittering sound. This gesture of seeking appears during the complete piece. No doubt - Sofia Gubaidulina's second violin concerto is an opus of retrieval, the retrieval for truth and beauty. The solo violin sounds despairingly beautifully in its cantilene sequences.

Of course - the piece is also inspired by the violinist it has been written for: Anne Sophie Mutter. Whereas above all the alikeness of the composers' and violinist's names was of concern for Gubaidulina: Sophia is the goddess of wisdom, whom is worshipped also in the Russian Orthodoxy. She stands for the creative princip of existence, thus for art itself. "Composing this music, this figure accompanied me perpetually", Gubaidulina says.

Its title "In Tempus Praesens" should sensitize the audience for the existent, a concern Gubaidulina had for a long time. She criticizes the presencelessness of our times, in which the now is often seen as a transfer from the preceding to the prospective.

Especially music (as absolut art of presence) achieves philosophical dimensions seen from the composer's viewpoint. Music is art of mindfulness, music requires the focus on the moment. Therefore this piece - in its for Gubaidulina so characteristical amalgamation of inwardness and expression - is throughoutly exciting and attracts attention of the audience.

Anne-Sophie Mutter lets her solo part shine in warm colors, but she also conveys the impression of the fragility and intimidation, which is immanent in the music as well. Most of all expressed with a kind of menace in the orchestra, which plays differentiated faned, empathetically concise conducted by Simon Rattle. High strings, 1st & 2nd violins, were banished from the orchestra by Gubaidulina. Thus a very special sound color arises, that enforces the contrast to the irradiating violin. Anne-Sophie Mutter plays it with noble gesture, anything but ostensible, on the contrary with almost meditative content.


September 30, 2007 at 12:34 PM · I guess I didn't see what was really going on. You know classical music isn't doing so well, especially in America where it is controlled by often quite corrupt big business corporations and their funding seeking to gain the impression of caring for the community by getting a notch in their belt. That a corporation funds a performance of Dicken's Christmas Carol or Bleak House (which is mostly about the corruption of the people sponsoring the piece of art but seen through another time) is another testimony to what is going on. Classical music then is often seen as a sort of elitist art and is inundated with a techno perfection in which the past half a century exploits mostly star quality performers who are exploited to spend most of their time playing music from past centuries without composing a note themselves or perhaps not having the time for it as they dart around the planet trying to fill in the holes of a sinking ship. In fact the whole "objective" approach seems to involve paring off the creative elements of human nature and avoiding seeing the consequent lack by projecting a means which would never produce the music that there is to enjoy onto the music which is there to enjoy but was written by people long dead and thus fortunately removed from the condition.

Thus when two words are said about the healing nature of music, how one can get into the notes and why they come together and engage with the human condition and that in this manner (without first making a God out of what is called "objective") one can play exactly what is written on the page and also engage with the creative and spiritual essence of the music (which I thinkg cam before the page) and allow it to communicate to people who would otherwise be turned off and are even biased against classical music – when this is pointed out there is an incredible amount of static to actually even objectively looking at what is said. It's like it would have to be wrong would something be said about an approach which is not working anymore.

In the mean time orchestras and opera houses are going broke, people who could have engaged with the essence of classical music are turned off to it by an elitist few who relish the elitist sterile and impotent atmosphere they have created as much as they relish controlling Washington through lobbyists and controlling politics to look the other way while they ravish the planet killing off much of it's creativity and trillions of years of evolution are being lost every day.

September 30, 2007 at 12:20 PM · "High strings, 1st & 2nd violins, were banished from the orchestra by Gubaidulina. Thus a very special sound color arise"

interesting idea, will be interesting to hear

I hope the conductor did a better job then Charles Dutoit who ruined large parts of Offertorium on the recording with Kremer.

Thank´s for the translation

September 30, 2007 at 12:46 PM · Roelof, just because great minds of the past were often ridiculed in their time does NOT mean that if you are ridiculed in yours you are the new Galileo. Being ridiculed is not the primary precondition but an OPTIONAL side effect of being a visionary. People laughing at your ridiculous posts does not prove you right and sublime, only ridiculous.

Lessons with Chopin through a medium. Indeed.

September 30, 2007 at 04:31 PM · When I heard ASM playing the Beethoven sonatas I grew as a musician. I grew in my understanding of Beethoven and also in my concept of the resources that are available to me as an artist. Not that I liked or agreed with everything she did. there were things that I loved. Other things I absolutely hated. But she made me grow. She gave me something new and fresh. There aren't too many violinists who can do that, especially in Beethoven where we have become such slaves to the printed page. Frankly I don't want to go to a concert to hear another correct, mainstream interpretation of Beethoven Sonatas. I was talking a few months ago with a pianist who had worked with Heifetz in his master classes. Heifetz would say to a student, "That was very C-O-R-R-E-C-T. Perhaps it could be a little less correct and a little more interesting."

September 30, 2007 at 11:40 PM · Amen, brother Roy. I know "correct" in art is just convention. There are stages to go through. Convention is going to be a student's focus as they become part of "it", or the focus of someone still thinking like a student. Somebody more secure or established may be less inclined to conform and more likely to stretch boundries or experiment. They have that possibility at least, whereas the student doesn't. Incidently, competitions seem to emphasise former idea, and to be a student "thing." Prestigious as some of them might be.

You say they made you grow as a musician, and I think the same way. But they might have also made me grow as a person. Just because of the new glimpse of or angle on what people are capable of doing. Both ASM and Beethoven. Very new and different and powerful, to sum it up poorly.

All that aside though, isn't she supposed to have done a lot of musicological research in preparation? I'm pretty sure that was the press release anyway.

P.S. If anyone doubts "correct" is convention, (try to) listen to some Chinese opera...

September 30, 2007 at 09:17 PM · Beautifully put, Roy.

September 30, 2007 at 10:59 PM · Roy:

Wonderfully said!


October 1, 2007 at 12:17 AM · sometimes I feel as though ASM tries so hard to be "individualistic" in interpretation that it sometimes comprises the music's credibility. She's a superb violinist no doubt about that, but for me, it seems as if she's trying too hard to be different and in the end, the music morphs into something different...

But this debate goes back to the whole:

What did the composer have in mind VS. Artistic Liberty...

There really is no universally right answer to this is preference.

October 1, 2007 at 08:14 PM · Something to be aware of is that the mind loves to see familiar patterns but at the same time if that's all it sees it gets bored. That has a lot of implications for something that's off the beaten path by a small amount. It also means whatever version of these someone likes it's highly personal and depends on their experiences.

I just now found this old thread on them. It's very funny.

"Prescript", since it hit 100 :)

I have to say the word "taste" has no place in music or the arts. The questions are is it interesting? What does it offer and express? Taste is whether or not a print matches your sofa.

October 1, 2007 at 09:04 AM · Anne Sophie also has an incredible nurturing element to her playing. The simplest essence of the offering of a good meal or a kind moment to be there for someone in a mothering way. She has that as well as the "greatness." I have her recording of Brahm's violin concerto which I bought on ebay and listened to yesterday.

Oh and Mara, that quote from Enescu that you at least brought up. I remember that he said that it's like putting on chains but then when you know what the composer's "intentions" are you emerge like a butterfly from a chrysalis. Is that correct? This is an approach that's necessary a lot I think. When one is tired and has to practice you may feel like being in chains to go to the instrument and keep the discipline going, but with careful attention and gentle patience you find something in the music itself which releases you from your burdens. I think this is what you were saying and which we both agree upon? Oh, and thanks for reaching out to me in my outbursts and letting me know you weren't trying to offend me.

October 1, 2007 at 11:20 AM · What I said about Anne Sophie Mutter's phrasing and how she brings out the phrase in time and beyond time: It's interesting how music exists in time and yet it exists beyond time. In music seemingly you can go back in time and play the same notes again but in reality they are never the same, in fact the whole world has changed in the interim between repeating a theme a motif or going back to a piece and playing "the same" notes. This is of course if you believe time exists. If it doesn't you wouldn't be able to go back in it, or would you?

Museums to me also express this relationship with time. You can go and see incredibly beautiful works of art expressing the essence of a period in history, history perhaps worse than what we complain about here in this time. Yet perhaps, by looking at the paintings and letting their beauty sink in like meditation, it is possible to go back in time and see the beauty that we missed. And in understanding time or art (which has become the same) one might be able to honor the essence of it is in such a way that when a boy comes along who can't paint paintings of human beings he wouldn't be dismissed from the art academy because he lacks skills, but it might be understood that because of his own history he has lost sight of what being human is and needs art for healing. There was once such a boy, his name was Adolph Hitler. History would have been a bit different if he had become an artist rather than a politician.

Art is supposed to be healing I think not the product of elitist perfectionism.

October 1, 2007 at 01:52 PM · Hey Roelof,

Can you hook me up with lessons from Chopin? Does he take beginners?

October 1, 2007 at 02:00 PM · I'd prefer Liszt myself, but I'm afraid he'd listen for five seconds to my horribly amateurish clunking and resolve never to visit the world of the living again. ;-)

October 1, 2007 at 03:15 PM · I think that people tend to forget that prior to Toscanini and Weingartner who brought back the idea of Com'e scritto as the only way to approach the score--and whose personalities were powerful enough to have an impact on the entire musical world--there was a whole other approach to the making of music--some of which was based on received tradition and even a certain amount of personal imagination as to how to deliver the content of music to an audience. Most of us grew up in the age of clinically correct music making and came to only expect that as a norm. Tradition was a dirty word and personal digging into the music to find the content better not come up with anything very troubling to the listener. In part I am sure that the influence of competitions silenced any dissenting voices as to how something should go--mustn't upset the judges! Now you're talking about an accomplished artist who has chosen to follow a different drummer and suddenly--the rot has set in. Not too cheeky!

October 1, 2007 at 03:19 PM · I'm going to listen to ASM playing Beethoven again some day -- perhaps it will be different.

October 1, 2007 at 03:32 PM · I haven't heard these new recordings of Anne Sophie Mutter yet, but I wonder if she talks anywhere about some of these musical decisions. It would be interesting to hear from her on why she makes some of the choices that the folks here find so disturbing. Anybody know if she's on :)

October 1, 2007 at 04:23 PM · Jay, first of all, from Beethoven onwards we have records of composers quibbling with publishers over the precise placement of a slur or staccato dot, not to mention dynamics. Not the actions of those who want the performer to utterly change what they wrote. Second, again and again and again and again:

It's not personality and individuality that is in question here, nor slavish adherence to a score. It is a musical understanding that doesn't place out-of-context elements into a work. You don't want Little Red Riding Hood intruding into Madame Bovary. Why would you want Shostakovitch-esque brooding and mystery in Elysian Beethoven? (rhetorical enough for ya, Roelof?)

In short, YES be an individual. And not just because a 19th century tradition did or didn't approve. Be an individual because the alternative is cookie-cutter music-making. But be a TASTEFUL individual. Know what fits and what doesn't. Don't just be different for the sake of being different. However easy such different playing is to recognize it doesn't constitute artistry but the exact opposite.

October 2, 2007 at 05:28 AM · *sheepishly* Mara, this is supposed to be a discussion about Anne Sophie Mutter.

You've got me insulting sheep already as if they need me imitating them when I don't know what to say (being human myself and not really a sheep and needing to make references to acting like one of them to excuse my behavior).

Maybe if you play *really really really* quietly on the piano and don't make ANY clunking noises....really really quiet...but not with tense muscles and turn your pinky out like they tell you in Alexander Technique (added note, Mara I was thinking of coming back here suspecting you were playing too quiet already but Roy Sonne at the bottom of the page with his quote from Liszt says it better than I could)

*Seriously* about "clunking" One of the main problems with using the hands with any instrument, but specifically the piano, is the tension that can be acquired when one uses the thumb. The grasp reflex of the thumb one usually uses in day to day activity is somewhat different than how you use it on the piano. If you put your hand in such a way that the fingers are standing on a table or other surface and the thumb hanging down:try lifting your elbow away from your body and pivoting the hand on your pinky while you lift the other fingers and see if your thumb doesn't relax in a different way because the pinky is supported and this leaves the thumb with a greater freedom of motion.

by the way since you bring up Liszt. here is a link with someone playing a Liszt transcendental etude on a Fazioli piano. I tried one of those pianos recently in Chicago and they are so beautiful (they responded to my thoughts and have such an open resonance that I could completely like go crazy on them). My eyes kept watering on the train home remember how the piano responded to my very thoughts while I was playing a Scriabin etude on it. I didn't know there were pianos that were that beautiful. When I listened to this video I have to start crying again because the bass is so resonant. Fortunately (since I can't afford ) I will be recording in the shop there soon.

There are even like tall tales about Faziolis. They are shipped across seas to America are taken out of the box and are completely in tune. 4 months later one of the best tuners in the US still feels no need to tune it! I've heared this story from the shop in San Francisco and Chicago.

pfft...since we're adding "prescripts" already:

I disagree with Mr. Chudovsky's analogy of Riding Hood, Bovary, Shostakovich and Beethoven.

To actually have Little Red Riding Hood in Madame Bovary one would have to change the actually script and add a character. I haven't really heard anyone now adays rip into a whole lick from a Shostakovich concerto during the Beethoven concerto while taking off or putting on a red hood and call it artistic freedom. No matter how well the red hood flying off the head goes with the color of the violin's varnish, I truly haven't experienced this. Also, personally, I think that mystery would by more akin to Beethoven perhaps (we all know who the culprit was in Shostakovich clear as day and I can even list his name and not end up in the gulag). With Beethoven it's not so clear, and I would find no problem to have brooding go along with this. And whether Madame Bovary before she married her husband, had the essence of a young girl in a fairy tale looking for adventure is another matter up for discussion which wouldn't need to be prevented by saying that the young girl in the red hood was intruding into the conversation. I believe that there is that amount of room needed for an actor to portray Madame Bovary in order for the part to become comfortable for her (or perhaps even him). Now would Charly Chaplin be intruding into Madame Bovary would she attempt to act jolly about all of this? Or are we talking about Cherubino already!?

October 1, 2007 at 04:04 PM · I cannot speak for ASM's other interpretations but I love her Beethoven. To me Beethoven has created a monster of roller coaster proportions. From Malmsteen to Bernstein I cannot get enough, maybe once I attend a music college I will understand the great genius of Beethoven from a more structural perception.

October 1, 2007 at 06:14 PM · Hi,

I will not venture into discussing Ms. Mutter's personal choices, but as with anything, including faithfulness to the score, all boils down to one essence in my opinion: Is what one is doing going with the music or against it. One can have vastly different choices, but if it goes with the music, it's OK. If not, then problems occur. Rubato is one good example. As long as the harmonic rhythm is not violated, most rubatos work OK. Vibrato too is highly personal, and though we value a sort of continous carpet vibrato these days, this has not always been the case (though of course, good taste applies).

That said, I have not heard Ms. Mutter's Beethoven sonatas in quite a while, but I think that she has the right to her ideas and ideals, whatever they may be. Any artist does. Whether the public wants it or not is something else, but that is more a reflection of the listener than the interpreter.


P.S. About the Brahms Hungarian Dances... If we have efforts to be period conscious in baroque music, why not so with romantic music, especially since we actually have recorded examples of players from that era playing these works (like Joachim and Ysaÿe)?

October 1, 2007 at 07:08 PM · Jay Azneer says:

"Most of us grew up in the age of clinically correct music making and came to only expect that as a norm. Tradition was a dirty word and personal digging into the music to find the content better not come up with anything very troubling to the listener."

Thank you Jay for echoing my intensely held personal conviction.

We have the testimony of composers and of those who heard them play. There is an entire volume of descriptive comments of Beethoven's playing by his contemporaries. I can't remember the exact title. But I remember one description about how LVB played one of his Sonatas with tremendous tempo variation. One of the listeners questioned him about the metronome marking and LVB replied "That is obviously only for the first measure."

Bartok, asked if it was necessary to observe his metronome markings replied "No. That's how I played it on one occasion."

Finally there is the quote from Liszt which I adore. I think I've posted it here before but it bears repeating. Here it is.

“The virtuoso is not a mason who, with chisel in hand, faithfully and conscientiously cuts his stone after the design of the architect. He is not a passive tool that reproduces feeling and thought without adding himself. He is called upon to let these speak, weep, sing — to render these to his own consciousness. He creates in this way like the composer himself, for he must embrace in himself those passions which he, in their complete brilliancy, has to bring to light. He breathes life into the lethargic body, infuses it with fire, and enlivens it with the pulse of gracefulness and charm. He changes the clay form into a living being. . .” Franz Liszt

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