Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter
Mutter's two vehicles were split between the two halves of the concert, beginning with Mendelssohn's evergreen violin concerto (E minor, op. 64), a piece that she probably learned when she was a child and has played hundreds of times. Perhaps searching for a way to keep herself interested in such a familiar work, she turned in a performance that some would call eclectic, others merely weird. Her approach to the rhythmic pulse was mercurial, requiring Eschenbach to keep one foot on the brake and the other on the gas at all times, but it brought out many little gem facets in the piece. She has a growling tone on her instrument, biting with a burr's edge into the G string, creating folk fiddle-like effects, shining wanly at the top of the E string. The technical demands, especially in an astounding first-movement cadenza, were dispatched with little trouble, even though the third movement was pushed to a blistering speed. It was clearly too much to expect Mutter also to play Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy after the intermission, and the results were not up to her normal technical standard, with some sketchy double-stops and flawed intonation. Mutter was probably exhausted: she had played a similar season opener just the night before with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Anne Midgette, NSO opens with pretty sounds, fancy dresses, striking decor (Washington Post, October 2)
The NSO's regular season gets under way this week, with Christoph Eschenbach leading performances of music by Wagner and Tchaikovsky (October 4 to 6), with mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor joining for Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs.