Gorgeous Bruch and Brahms from Mutter and Luisi at the Start of their Tour


Takemitsu, Bruch, Brahms: Philharmonia Zurich / Fabio Luisi (conductor), Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Zurich Opera House, 14.5.2017. (JR)

Anne-Sophie Mutter, München 2015

Anne-Sophie Mutter (c) Monika Höfler

Takemitsu Nostalghia – in memory of Andrei Tarkovsky

Bruch – Violin Concerto No.1 op.26

Brahms – Symphony No.4 op.98

The appearance in Zurich of Anne-Sophie Mutter ensured a full house and a queue for returns.

The orchestra for this concert was the opera house orchestra, known as Philharmonia Zurich; the stage has been specially adapted for symphonic concerts by removing several rows of stalls seats and building an acoustic shell round the orchestra.

Opening the concert, at Mutter’s request, a short piece for solo violin and string orchestra entitled Nostalghia, named after one of Russian film-maker’s Andrei Tarkovsky’s films. (I still fondly remember Tarkovsky’s excellent production of Boris Godunov at Covent Garden in the early 1980s under Claudio Abbado). The piece has nothing, however, to do with the content of the film (an exiled artist pining for his homeland, just as Tarkovsky did), but is a sombre, lyrical elegy, originally composed for Yehudi Menuhin. It’s all rather muted and full of remorse. Mutter has a penchant for modern works, but I have to say this one did little to me. It has no discernible Japanese elements, which might have added some interest; the last dying note is admittedly very beautiful – but that’s not enough.

Mutter played the Bruch for Karajan when she was 18 and over recent decades has rather put the concerto to one side. She emerged onto the stage in a strapless blue figure-hugging gown, clutching one of her Stradivari; there were audible gasps of delight from the audience. She played most of the Bruch with her eyes closed. It was, of course, masterful, note perfect and completely without pretension. Phrasing was always graceful, the tone luscious. In the slow movement, the audience hung onto every note. Luisi was the perfect and sensitive accompanist, injecting plenty of swagger into the finale. Bach, the perfect antidote to romantic Bruch, was served as a soothing encore. The audience were thrilled.

Luisi kept a steady tempo in the Brahms, apart from one instance when, strangely, he almost stopped; otherwise Luisi was a whirlwind on the podium, whipping up quite some electricity. If one had to criticise the interpretation, it was perhaps, at times, more Verdi than Brahms, but this is a work Luisi clearly adores (he rates it above all other Brahms symphonies) and knows very well, having played it often with the Dresdner Staatskapelle. Luisi moulded every section with precision. He cleverly launched straight into the finale to prevent premature applause at the end of the third movement, which ends with a flourish. The opera house orchestra is, of course, no match for the finesse of the Dresdners but they played with enthusiasm, energy and no little skill. The front desks worked exceptionally hard (concert masters Ada Pesch and Bartlomej Niziol deserve special mention), the woodwind (especially Rita Karin Meier on clarinet, Bernhard Heinrichs on oboe, Maurice Heugen on flute) shone even if none of them particularly stood out. The double bass players, amusingly and fittingly, had a degree of visible swing in the allegro giocoso. The closing pages of the Allegro energico e passionato really came to life. There were some uneven passages that, hopefully, will be ironed out as the orchestra now goes on a lengthy tour, with the same programme and soloist. The calibre of this enjoyable programme and performance augurs very well for a successful tour.

Here are the dates and venues – catch them if you can:

Gasteig Munich –  16th May
Brucknerhaus Linz –  17th May
Semperoper Dresden – 18th May
Philharmonie Essen – 20th May
Philharmonie Cologne – 21st May
Philharmonie Luxembourg – 22nd May
Alte Oper Frankfurt – 23rd May

John Rhodes

Print Friendly


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews


Season Previews

  • NEW! The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2018 Blossom Music Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! LA Opera’s 2018/19 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Buxton Festival 2018 and its New CEO __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! Violinist Liza Ferschtman Celebrates Bernstein’s Centenary in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Piccadilly Chamber Music Series in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! I Musicanti’s Alexandra and the Russians at St Johns Smith Square in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group to Perform Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto at Cadogan Hall __________________________________
  • NEW! A Celebration of the Work of Dai Fujikura at Wigmore Hall on 17 February __________________________________
  • NEW! Rafael de Acha Introduces Some of Cincinnati’s New Musical Entrepreneurs __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB’s 2018 Emerging Dancer will be Chosen at the London Coliseum on 11 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Akram Khan’s Giselle for ENB Can be Seen in Cinemas from 25 April __________________________________
  • NEW! BARRY DOUGLAS IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • UPDATED! SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS CHOOSE THEIR ‘BEST OF 2017’ __________________________________
  • NEW! Dénes Várjon Talks to Sebastian Smallshaw About Budapest’s Kamara.hu __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Russian Ballet Icons Gala at the London Coliseum on 25 February __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H