5.0 out of 5 stars A showcase of pure, unadulterated celebration
I think we may have the definitive recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons here with the talents of Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Trondheim Soloists. A rich, full-bodied Four Seasons is presented here; a genuine product of musical growth for Mutter, given she recorded the seasons nearly 20 years ago for EMI. Harald Wieser says it best in the liner notes, "The recording that...
Published on Aug. 9 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Highlights Dampened by Weak Support
It's easy to get used to listening to near-perfect recordings and performances of The Four Seasons. With so many recordings available, you can have your pick of styles.
I remember confidently ordering tickets for a local group's performance of The Four Seasons in Salzburg one summer. How could I go wrong? The performance started off in fine fashion. The soloist...
Published on March 7 2007 by Donald Mitchell
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3.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Highlights Dampened by Weak Support,
This review is from: Four Seasons (Audio CD)It's easy to get used to listening to near-perfect recordings and performances of The Four Seasons. With so many recordings available, you can have your pick of styles.
I remember confidently ordering tickets for a local group's performance of The Four Seasons in Salzburg one summer. How could I go wrong? The performance started off in fine fashion. The soloist was huge, confident, and energetic. The rest of the group was solid and enthusiastic. But after about 12 minutes, the soloist began to come apart at the seams. He couldn't complete the difficult sections in Summer. The group would restart and restart. I was fascinated.
I had almost forgotten that experience when I first listened to this recording. Such violin soloist flubs are unknown in the mature Anne-Sophie Mutter's recordings. But I was astonished to find that her supporting cast of Trondheim Soloists (led by Bjarne Fiskum and including soloists Byvind Gimse, and Knut Johannesen) was apparently playing a different piece, and not very well. Ms. Mutter is also credited as conductor. I suspect that she should have scheduled many more practices.
The recording also has moments when another take would have been in order.
But I learned something valuable from listening to Ms. Mutter soar about the muddled noise: It matters who else is playing with you for The Four Seasons.
If you are an Anne-Sophie Mutter fan (as I am), you'll undoubtedly want to listen to this CD. But I think you'll be more pleased if you limit yourself to the first allegro from Spring from The Four Seasons for 3 minutes and 36 seconds during which the Trondheim Soloists perform okay in the Simply Anne-Sophie CD. Good editing choice there.
I graded Anne-Sophie's playing as a five, the recording quality as a four, and the Trondheim Soloists as a 1.
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Baroque, Just Grotesque,
This review is from: Four Seasons (Audio CD)I will forsake my usual verbose review - words simply fail me here. From the "album cover" to the performance, this is crass exploitation at its worst. If anyone buying this is even remotely interested in the music, they might give the Carmignola 4 Seasons on Sony a hearing - it's just one of about 100 preferable alternatives.
It's really odd how mediocrity gets the spotlight, while artistry is so often relegated to obscurity. Mutter studied violin with Aida Stucki, a wonderful artist whose early Vox LP recordings of Mozart Concertos are genuine collector's items.
Why not issue some of THOSE on CD instead of settling for a sham like this. Apparently we just don't live in a graceful age.
5.0 out of 5 stars A showcase of pure, unadulterated celebration,
This review is from: Four Seasons (Audio CD)I think we may have the definitive recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons here with the talents of Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Trondheim Soloists. A rich, full-bodied Four Seasons is presented here; a genuine product of musical growth for Mutter, given she recorded the seasons nearly 20 years ago for EMI. Harald Wieser says it best in the liner notes, "The recording that you made with Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic was very beautiful. Very beautiful, but also very stolid. It was like a good, heavy red wine. A musical High Mass celebrating The Four Seasons. But it is the popping of vintage champagne corks that one hears in your playing with these young Norwegians, playing in which you are so infectiously youthful and one can almost literally see the twinkle in your eye....For me the High Mass has been turned into a high spirited celebration, with a pure and sometimes even boisterous delight in music-making. In the Presto from "Summer" and the Allegro from "Autumn," the Trondheimers literally leap from their seats...Your four seasons for Karajan was an example of life as art. The present recording, under your own direction, is an example of art as life."
Mutter makes the listener see and even hear the colours of the seasons, creating a distinctive tone and mood with each movement. Indeed, one can only think of Vivaldi smiling upon this recording, as this is the way he intended for his Four Seasons to be played.
Tartini's "Devil's Trill" (as I've stated in previous reviews, the veritable Tracy to Vivaldi's Hepburn), is just as enthralling, something that must have been a challenge to Mutter, for after the final Allegro of Winter, it seems as though nothing could make it better. Yet everything, from her andantes to her larghettos to her cadenza, is absolutely stunning.
An added bonus is the presentation of the CD altogether, as the packaging and liner notes feature the artwork of Gotthard Graubner, who is famous not for illustrations of musical works, but for reactions to the music he hears. The artistic complement to the musician Mutter. Also appreciated in the booklet is the original text of the poems Vivaldi based his Four Seasons on. The result is a well-rounded celebration of art and life. The only thing the listener wants from the recording is the chance to hear it again.
5.0 out of 5 stars Aggressive and Invigorating,
This review is from: Four Seasons (Audio CD)Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Trondheim Soloists attack Vivaldi's old warhorse with a freshness and energy that make you listen to it as though you were hearing it for the first time. Mutter adds both intensity and suspense to the fast movements, setting off the lyrical passages with greater contrast. This probably isn't the way Vivaldi would have performed it, but it is an interpretation that rescues the Four Seasons from being mere background music.
5.0 out of 5 stars an artist in her prime,
This review is from: Four Seasons (Audio CD)You won't find many recordings of the famed Red Priest's masterpiece that can match this one. I'd put Shaham with the Orpheus CO (also on DG) in the same ballpark, but I know of no recording that reaches the levels of beauty and improvisational flare found on this recording. Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Trondheim soloists have given us a Four Seasons for the ages.
First, the obvious-Mutter wants us to "hear" this disc with our eyes. The accompanying notes are filled with the art of Gotthard Graubner as well as some lovely photos of Mutter. While some people seem to have a problem with this "commercialism," I do not (icing on the cake if you ask me).
Now, to the actual music-let me start by saying that this is no "vanity" project (this is Mutter's second recording of the work-so some seem to think her suspect). Whereas Mutter's first recording with Karajan was musically adept and refined, this Four Seasons is the product of true artistry. Pared down but not forced, insightful, but not idiosyncratic--I would say this recording is best described as a playful work of love.
This second recording by Mutter tops other Four Seasons that I have head in many ways. In particular--it, like nature, has an innate freedom. This is music that flows naturally, unpredictably, and is always full of wonder.
Where this disc truly separates itself from other recordings of the work is in its palpably frigid "Winter." Mutter's violin IS the biting cold. You might want to have a sweater handy when you listen.
The Devil's Trill, the filler piece on the disc, is possibly given an even better performance than the stunning Four Seasons. Both pieces are programmatic and fantasy driven. Both create stunning sound-pictures.
Yet beyond all the fantasy and beauty, this music speaks to me of a greater truth that would at first seem fantasy. Music of this depth and spirit is indeed evidence of an artist in her prime. More importantly, it is further irrefutable evidence of the beauty, depth, wonder, and goodness of the One who set the lights in the expanse of the heavens to mark the Four Seasons.
5.0 out of 5 stars The most fun Vivaldi ever, if not flawless.,
This review is from: Four Seasons (Audio CD)My one disappointment with this album is a sloppiness in the Trondheim Soloists. (I am not much of a musician myself; this is just my subjective perception. Feel free to flame me at your convenience.) This is isolated, rare and a minor complaint anyway, but very noticeable during the first movement of Winter. They just don't even sound like they're *together* in places.
But this is my one minor nitpick. Authenticity? BAH! This is by far the most soulful, the most gleeful, the most FUN recording of Vivaldi I've ever heard.
I don't need to mention what an amazing virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter is. Instead I'll just gush over her solos -- the way she can dig into a note and make it growl agressively like a gospel singer, the way she can manipulate the tempo as if it were elastic... there's so much going on here it makes me giddy listening to it.
Gratuitous packaging photos of the admittedly beautiful Ms. Mutter aside, this album doesn't strike me as some academic study in the baroque period. It strikes me more as a group of brilliant musicians indulging themselves and throwing their hearts and souls into an off-beat interpretation of a staple piece of music.
Don't get this album because you're looking for a technically perfect or accurate recording of Vivaldi. Get it because it's more fun than baroque music fans should be having.
2.0 out of 5 stars Vivaldi as Beethoven?,
This review is from: Four Seasons (Audio CD)...Mutter is really playing a Baroque piece with too much of her HEAVY Romantic heart. The Pathos of Beethoven was UNkown when the seasons were composed. My friends, the significantly different eras in western music DON'T mix. The differences in aesthetics are too great to reconcile. Quite simply, taking a triangle Baroque and forcing it into a round Romantic hole results in ba-roken parts. This CD merely affirms the supremacy of period perfomances. And we period folk are getting beat-up these days (somthing of a backlash) by you Romantic era lovers, even in the press, who still don't understand the Early Music Movement. Please try listening to Trevor Pinnock's 1982 version, and then will you STILL give Mutter her 5 stars? I think NOT.
5.0 out of 5 stars New Romanticism VS. Old Sourpuss "Authenticity",
This review is from: Four Seasons (Audio CD)[...another] reviewer of this CD writes: "Let's face it: nobody plays Italian baroque like that anymore. This CD wouldn't have been published if it hadn't been for Mutter's great looks." [...]I give the baroque era more credit, and believe that even if they DIDN'T play their music this way originally, it sounds wonderful done with expression and personality.
Some of these "authenticity" purists seem to want to eliminate individuality from music altogether, insisting that everyone play exactly the same bland, dry, unadorned, boring way.
Thank goodness Mutter ignores the authenticity snobs and follows her own artistic path. [...]
No question this recording is a radical one, daring and provocative. [...]
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, vivid and exuberant!,
This review is from: Four Seasons (Audio CD)This isn't your usual Sunday brunch rendering of The Four Seasons. Anne-Sophie Mutter brings the Vivaldi favorite to vivid life with both sensitivity and boldness, and she's helped along by the full-orchestra-sounding Trondheim Soloists from Norway, whom she also directs. Ms. Mutter's usual clear and silvery tone shines beautifully, and the smaller orchestra reveals finer shadings in the music, with the harpsichord now audible in its lovely crispness. Nothing dull or boring in this version, which I find to be my favorite of The Four Seasons. The second work, Tartini's virtuosic "Devil's Trill" gets a similarly expansive treatment, with Ms. Mutter's fantastic fiddling in abundant evidence, and I loved it, too. So go get this CD, listen and feel the thrill!
3.0 out of 5 stars The vixen of violin pours her dreamy tone over Vivaldi......,
This review is from: Four Seasons (Audio CD)Although this piece of music is the most over recorded work in recent history, it happens to be an enduring and captivating baroque classic.
I really love it, as it contains enough highs and lows to satisfy my love of passionate, firey, emotional and colourful music. Whether it is Jazz, Progressive Metal, Funk or Classical music, I like to hear and feel these qualities coming at my aural senses with abandon!
I have to say that Anne-Sophie Mutters rendition of this work displays her usual dreamy tone and energy. It goes without saying that her technical prowess handles everything with apparent ease, maybe too much so because I feel an artist is at their best, when performing right on the edge of their abilities. Sadly, Mutter plods along through most of this work, causing you to sit uncomfortably in your chair, urging her to propel each movement forward with more energy and passion.
I have heard many, many versions of this work and I still come back to the one that captures every nuance, tone and emotion with thundering power and sensitivity. That version is by Nigel Kennedy, released in 1989 and everytime I hear it, you are left uplifted, exhausted and satisfied. I doubt very much if anyone else could better Nigel Kennedy's performance and Mutter certainly tries to bring something new to the work, but ultimately fails to capture it in the right way.
I love Anne-Sophie Mutters other recordings very much, but I wouldn't really recommend this one, apart from the added bonus of Tartini's 'The Devil's Trill', which is excellent and in many ways overshadows the main attraction of the CD.
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