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Volume 20 Issue 3 - November 2014

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© HARALD HOFFMANN/DGBeat by Beat | Classical & BeyondVirtuoso ViolinsPiano ProdigiesPAUL ENNISAnne-Sophie Mutter wasonly 22 years old whenshe started her firstfoundation in aid of youngstring players; it was limitedto the area of Germany at thefoot of the Black Forest whereshe was born. As a teenager ifhad become clear to her – shetold me in a recent telephoneconversation – that “we stringplayers sooner or later runthrough the same circle ofproblems mainly to do withfinding the right teacher butalso with finding an instrumentwhich can be a musicalpartner for life, and hopefullyfinancially obtainable as well. So my first foundation was sort ofa tryout, how I could help younger colleagues.”Now in its 16th or 17th year, the Circle of Friends of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation provides instruments for the foundation’schosen scholars as one attempt to help. Another is commissioningnew works. The Toronto program of Anne-Sophie Mutter and theMutter Virtuosi in Roy Thomson Hall on November 21 opens with acommission by the Circle of Friends for double bass -- Ringtones bythe American Sebastian Currier.“Obviously throughout history the double bass has been one of theimportant pillars of the orchestra but there have been very few soloperformers,” she said. “Roman Patkoló was one of my first scholarsand I was totally blown away by his talent, by his artistry and greatpassion,” she continued. So even though her original plan had notincluded the double bass that much, it became “really a main focus ofmy foundation” with four pieces commissioned for Patkoló startingwith “a beautiful double concerto” written and recorded by AndréPrevin, “a very pizzazz-y solo piece by Penderecki,” as well as “a veryintellectual spherical piece” by Wolfgang Rihm.“Ringtones is a very serious piece but also leaves room for fun,”she continued, explaining that it’s a way to build a case for the virtuosityof the bass. Showing off her sense of humour, she dead-panned:“Ringtones are for the very first time in a concert welcome!”As to what it’s like to perform with her students and formerstudents -- who comprise the Mutter Virtuosi with whom she’ssharing the RTH stage – she recounts how when she was 13, Karajantreated her as an adult, addressing her with the German equivalent of“vous,” not “tu,” which would be normal in speaking to a 13-year-old.She points this out to indicate that experience and age are irrelevant tothe “all-embracing strength of musical language.”“No matter how young we are,” she went on. “At the end of the dayit’s really your personal viewpoint, and of course, a certain skillfulness,that we only have to share.“Of course I’m looking with greatAnne-Sophie Mutterlove and devotion into the lives of theones I’ve been a small part of for 10 or 15years and it’s beautiful to see how all ofthem have found their place in is really the Olympic ideal to makethe best out of what you have that is thedriving force behind the [foundation’s]selection process.”Mendelssohn’s great Octet is on theprogram in Toronto, so I asked Ms.Mutter why she admires the composerso much. Her answer was especiallyrevealing. She began by saying thatit was only eight or ten years ago shere-started learning the Violin Concerto:“My wonderful teacher Aida Stuckinever seemed to be quite taken by whatI did with the piece and I never feltquite free with what my vision was. So it wasn’t one of the pieces I feltcomfortable with and when it was up to me to decide what repertoireI would delve into I thought, ‘Well if no one likes my Mendelssohnplaying, I’ll just stop playing it.’“Then many years ago, I think around Kurt Masur’s 75th or 80thbirthday [80th in fact, in 2007] he said ‘I want a gift from you: Restudythe Mendelssohn and let’s do it together.’ Of course, when Kurt Masurwishes something I’ll go to the end of the world for him, so the least Icould do was restudy the piece and come to different conclusions. Andhe gave me wonderful insights.“I came to admire Mendelssohn as the humanist he was andactually today he’s for me a perfect example of what I expect a musicianto be, also [what I expect] of the younger generation: someonewho is socially engaged and open-minded and goes with open eyesthrough life.”She explained that Mendelssohn built the first music school inGermany for “students of all cultural and financial backgrounds,”and of course, “he resurrected Johann Sebastian Bach.” She summedup her feelings: “Somehow I seem to admire an artist in general evenmore if he also turns out to be a useful member of human society,apart from being very skillful at what he’s doing.“Obviously the Octet stands for all these qualities. There’s such abeautiful quote from Mendelssohn who used to say, particularly aboutthe Octet, that when he is writing or making chamber music he hopesMost Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at noon or 5:30 p.m.“The quality of performers for these free concertsalways amazes me.”MICHAEL VINCENT, MUSICAL TORONTO, 416-363-8231MEDIA SPONSORSEliana Cuevas. Photo: Karen Reeves. Creative: BT/A14 | November 1 - December 7, 2014

Anne-Sophie Mutterwith Lambert OrkisGlionna MansellPresents© DARIO ACOSTA/DGANDREAS P. MUTTERthat it is ‘like a conversation between very well-educated and interestingfriends.’“And this is pretty much how I feel when I am playing with myyoung colleagues. We all bring our own viewpoints to it and there’s alot of freshness and passion in the air, which is the main ingredientreally of rediscovering what we think we know.”I had read that Ms. Mutter had recently begun using a baroquebow to perform Bach, so I asked her if she would be using one in theToronto performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, only to discoverthat new regulations involving animal materials made it difficultto bring even copies to North America. She told me that she willcontinue to play Bach with it wherever she is able mainly “becausethe original phrasing in the Bach scores is only to be obtained by bowswhich are much lighter in the frog [the bottom part of the bow that isnearest to the hand] which was the case in Baroque times.”While they don’t use baroque bows in their playing of the Vivaldi,it’s nevertheless much less dense and more transparent playing todaythan what she thought was proper in the 1980s. In Toronto she andher Virtuosi would be keeping that “transparent and very airy soundin mind, for sure.”I was quite curious about what led Ms. Mutter to take up the violinas a child since I knew that she didn’t come from a family of musicians.She spoke of growing up “kind of a tomboy” with two olderbrothers in a house with a lot of classical music and literature. Herfather was a journalist who later became a newspaper editor. Asengagement presents her parents gave each other recordings byFurtwängler and by Menuhin. “That shows how much that was part oftheir life and how much that became part of our life at home.”“We listened to a lot of classical music as well as jazz,” shecontinued. “And that is probably the reason for my deep-rooted loveof jazz because I felt so comfortable and basically soaked it up likemother’s milk.“So for my fifth birthday – it must have been the constant presenceof that violin sound which made me want to try it for myself. And I’mstill trying it,” she added, almost seriously.I asked her about the violinists who made an impression on her inher youth and the depth of her answer was quite telling: “The great,unforgettable David Oistrakh definitely left the deepest impression:his presence on stage, the warmth of his personality. I remember therewere students sitting literally at his feet ... Yes, I was six years old andhe played the three Brahms sonatas.“A few years later I was fortunate enough to hear Nathan Milsteinwho became another of my [favourites]; I obviously also played withMenuhin at a later stage of his life; I heard Isaac Stern in person; Iwas rather close to Henryk Szeryng. I was really very fortunate tohear all of these icons of violin playing at a still fabulous age and inA Music Series unlike any other14April 2014 through to November 2014Don’t Miss TheLast Fall Concert!Rounding out this year’sOrganix 14 concert seriesNosetti Memorial ConcertNov 12, 7:30 pmMaxine Thévenot, Eugenio Fagiani,Omar Caputi and the TorontoEcumenical ChoraleSt. Paul’s Anglican Church,227 Bloor St. EastLooking ahead to 2015...15A Music Series unlike any otherFebruary through to October 2015Performers and Events will include:Christopher Dawes and Daniel Rubinoff, An Organ Skills Workshop, DuoZsigmond (Organ and Percussion – New Music), Jens Korndoerfer, RomanPerucki and Maria Perucka, Aaron Tan, Gordon Mansell, Renée Anne Louprette,Jennifer Loveless, William O’Meara and William Findlay, plus a bus excursion toPrince Edward County, an overnight stay and vineyard tours and an ORGANIX 15concert by Jens Korndeorfer at St. George’s Cathedral, Kingston.Tickets available November 1 - December 7, 2014 | 15

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