TANGO SONG and DANCE Brahms, Franck, Faure, Kreisler, Gershwin, Previn

Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin)
Andre Previn (piano) Lambert Orkis (piano)

DG 471 500-2
TPT 1:16:13

reviewed by Neville Cohn 

I found my review copy of this CD in my letter box when I returned home late at night after a long and tiring day. I thought I’d listen to it for a few minutes before turning in. Suffice it to say that it was around 3 am before I called it a night after listening to this enchanting recording three times in succession. This is one of the finest CDs I’ve listened to this year, playing by three musicians who seem to draw from a shared reservoir of inspiration. I cannot readily recall more satisfying playing from Anne Sophie Mutter (violin) and Andre Previn (piano). In the latter’s Tango Song and Dance, they scale Olympus with a nonchalance of mastery that is breathtaking.

Sensuous of mood and sumptuous of tone, there’s a ‘come hither’ quality about both score and interpretation that’s as irresistible as a siren’s call. Song, in particular, makes for wonderfully satisfying listening, ardent music, ardent playing that insinuate themselves in the deepest recesses of the consciousness. There’s wizardry in the meticulous skill with which Mutter addresses fluttering arabesques here. And, in Dance, there’s bracing assertiveness and astonishingly nimble treatment of the violin line, with note streams informed by a most pleasingly grainy tone quality. Previn does wonders, too, at the keyboard, the playing informed by a whispered, phantom boogie-woogie quality. Throughout, the unanimity of attack they bring to even the most subtle of nuances is extraordinary. If Previn’s Tango Song and Dance does not find a place in the standard repertoire, I would very much like to know why.

The word ‘superb’, with its connotations of exalted excellence, is, in the nature of things, rarely employed by critics. But in a medley of songs from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (in a transcription for violin and piano by Jascha Heifetz), it seems barely adequate to describe the all-embracing finesse of their ensemble playing. Here, Mutter and Previn scale Olympus.

Mutter is hardly less persuasive in ensemble with pianist Lambert Orkis in a bracket of Hungarian Dance by Brahms and a Kreisler group ­ Schon Rosmarin, Caprice viennois No 2 and Liebesleid.

Schon Rosmarin is given memorable treatment; Mutter’s double stopping is here magical – and she mines the Caprice for every last ounce of Viennese nuance.

Franck’s Sonata No 1 in A is one of his most deeply probing scores and Mutter and Orkis respond to it with an answering depth of feeling. At its most extrovert, there is a soaring, passionate quality to the playing that makes this 25 minutes of listening bliss.

The sound engineers have done a first rate job. Highly recommended.


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