If you haven't heard these recordings, you have a nice surprise ahead of you. The Mendelssohn dates from 1981 and the Brahms from 1982. Because of the recording dates, you've got the young protege, Anne-Sophie Mutter, firmly under the leadership of the old master, Herbert von Karajan, with that marvelous orchestra to draw on for generous support.
Ms. Mutter has never been closer since then to the gentler ways of performing these pieces as she is here. The accompaniment is very well balanced and perfectly complements the solos.
Being used to a lot of fire from Ms. Mutter, some may complain that these performances aren't sizzling enough.
I found that her interpretation of Mendelssohn was delightfully restrained which allowed for the heavenly aspects of the piece to emerge. I was equally pleased with her Brahms where her violin seems to literally sing to us in a beautiful human voice. Beneath the surface, you can feel the controlled power of Mutter, von Karajan, and the Berlin Philharmonic. It's like watching heavyweights delicately dancing ballet to exquisite chamber music. You know there's the power there to blow us away, but that they want to enrapture us instead.
This recording will appeal most to people who like to hear classic pieces of the repertoire performed in ways that aren't the typical fare.
on October 12, 2000
I must say that this recording surely has something magic about it. But I wouldn't really go as far as the previous reviewer, to say it's sexual - it's far more than earthly pleasures - it's ethereal. You can just sit back in your sofa, close your eyes and feel that there's something more than just the music you hear in this recording. Sensitive, intensitive, and sensual, sometimes on the border to vulnerability, is the playing from especially Ms Mutter. Karajan shows his great experience by not letting his own conducting catch too much of your attention - he is simply responsive and supportive to Ms Mutter's young and fresh-sounding playing. Need I then say that this is beautiful? Happily, this is valid for both these lovely concertos.
The Mendelssohn start with lots of fire and brilliance from both Ms Mutter and Karajan in the first movement, leading through the second movement, the Andante, which is utterly moving and suffocatingly beautiful here, to a playfully vivacious Allegretto/Allegro.
The Brahms concerto is no less good. The first allegro, a part balancing between solemnity and violent, tragic explosions, through parts of wondering and restfullness, is showing every possible variation of emotion called for - just listen to Ms Mutters lovely intense vibrato after about 11 ½ minute. Ms Mutter definately shows that she understands the intrinsical values of this concerto - If this first part doesn't make you understand what's etherical in music, nothing probably ever will. The following adagio is extremely beautiful, the oftenly dominating oboepart being put aside here by Ms Mutters lovely playing, which grows for every bar played. The last allegro is played just as the name indicates, non troppo vivace - not to playful, sounding like an almost serious dance melody.
The sound is a little too close for my taste, especially since the Berlin forces sounds a little unclear, but thats of minor concern indeed, when the rest of this recording makes you nothing but happy. I don't think that you'll find any better version of these lovely concertos than these ones, at least I haven't.
on August 9, 2000
The Mendelssohn violin concerto is perhaps one of the best pieces written for that instrument. Every violinist of quality has recorded it and because of this, of course, I have not listened to every available version. However, this recording and the duo Mutter/Karajan exhude such style, such strength and such raw sexual energy that all other recordings for me have fallen flat. Karajan with the baton and Mutter with the violin spar, argue, make up, lay in each others arms, go their seperate ways and come back together in exchanges of lyrical and sensual love-making the likes of which I have rarely heard in music before. Listening to this CD is like watching a passionate and deep relationship unfold. It's beautiful. It's unexpected. And yet it never loses sight of the poetic Mendelssohn--and this is why it is a great recording: for all the love the performers throw around, they love the composer just as much. Unfortunately, the Brahms concerto ends up a little weak in comparison, but that is only in comparison. This CD is a must have.
on May 24, 2015
A-S Mutter and the Berlin Philharmonic in fine form. These are probably definitive performances of the Mendelssohn and Brahms concertos. I doubt that I have heard better; just possibly Menuhin but that was nearly 50 years ago and memory is rather a fragile thing. Anne-Sophie certainly can stir up splendid emotions with her brilliant playing, and I recommend this disc without reservations to anyone looking to upgrade their collection, or just to get started on the violin concertos. You will be happy to hear this recording play many, many times - like me.
on June 27, 2002
Protege Anne-Sophie Mutter has made yet another excellent CD. The Mendelssohn concerto is truly one of the greatest concertos, and has been well met by Anne-Sophie Mutter. She has a very clear and pronounced style, that not only makes for an excellent piece to listen to, but would be a bonus for a student studying either of the concertos.