Robert G. VanStryland | Denton, TX USA | 08/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mutter and Orkis were recorded on stage playing all ten of Beethoven's sonatas for piano and violin, which are presented in order from first to last. The performances are all wonderful. Although Orkis is not as famous as Mutter, it is evident that he collaborates on at least an equal basis (in the earlier sonatas, the piano is the leading instrument; in the later ones, the violinist becomes an equal partner). Mutter is second to no one as an executant and these performances are free of significant technical flaws. Picture and sound quality are first-rate. I can't think of any reason you wouldn't want these DVDs. NOTE: another DVD, entitled "A Life with Beethoven," contains the same performances of the "Spring" and "Kreutzer" sonatas and the same documentary found in "Beethoven's Complete Violin Sonatas." If you get this one, you don't need the other."
Technique fighting the music--What's happened to ASM?
John Grabowski | USA | 08/17/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I thought these would be the same performances as the ones released on CD by DG, which I've reviewed enthusiastically. Watching this DVD sent me back to my CDs, wondering if I had to revise what I wrote there. After comparison listenings, I *still* like the Mutter-Orkis CD very much. But the DVD, recorded a month later than the CD (and in Paris vs. Germany) seems to me mannered, calculated, and exaggerated to the point that the music's shape is distended. The overall approach is the same on both, but consistently on the DVD effects are exaggerated (by Mutter especially), tempi are more extreme, and there are showy techniques not called for in the score, and that seem designed to draw attention to the tremendous control Mutter and Orkis admittedly have over themselves rather than serve the music. For just one example of what I mean, an example difficult to convey with words, listen to the coda to the first movement of the Kreutzer in both versions. Or perhaps better yet, listen to the second movement theme and variations. In the CD the ebb and flow of the variations relate to one another. On the DVD the effects seem overly-deliberate and overly-refined. It's almost as if ASM had grown tired of the music and was playing for effects' sake. There are many moments of excessive refinement, where a phrase is ignored or distorted so ASM can show us her "flattening" of a note, or draw out a phrase to the point that the shape is lost. She changes color on the violin so many times you almost want to shout out at the TV, "Okay, we know you are the world's greatest violin technician! Please just play the music."The accompanying documentary, "A Life With Beethoven," should have been called "A Life With Anne-Sophie," since that's what it's really about. She uses the music of Beethoven as a backdrop, and she gives the usual platitudes about what a genius he was and how deep and complex his music is, but after that's out of the way it's all about her career. She offers not one insight into Beethoven or performing his music. And it's amusing to hear her repeated statements that her partnership with Orkis is one of equals when in the rehearsals she is clearly leading in everything. Reminded me of the press conference called after Damler/Benz swallowed up Chrysler, when Chrysler executives kept reiterating how it was a marriage of equals. I didn't believe it then and I don't now. (Incidentally, if you really believe Mutter and Orkis are equals, just note how large her name appears in the opening and closing credits vs. his!)These DVDs are well-produced, with fine picture and sound. But these aren't definitive performances. They don't illuminate the works the way Kremer/Argerich, Bartok/Szigeti, Kempff/Schneiderhan, or Oborin/Oistrakh do. Those other performances aren't on DVD, however, so if you must have picture along with sound this may be the only way to go. For now."
Technique and Virtuosity taking the spotlight away from the
Nabih B. Bulos | Baltimore, MD USA | 04/13/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As someone who has worked with Lambert Orkis, I can say with some authority that he is unequivocally a genius in the art of accompaniment, and a true wizard at the piano. I have rarely felt such rapport with a pianist, the sort of rapport that effortlessly creates the atmosphere that I would try very hard (and often vainly) to create with a lesser pianist. Without a doubt, I have never felt such masterful support in whatever sonata is at hand. Accordingly, it is no surprise that Orkis's playing is impeccable in these sonatas, and truly a wonderful complement to any violinist who knows his/her stuff.
The violinist, in this case, is Anne-Sophie Mutter, who hardly needs an introduction and whose provenance in proven, especially in her earlier years.
Which is why, I suppose, this DVD is so surprising...
The fact of the matter is that Anne-Sophie Mutter, although a fabulous violinist, seems to be using effects just for effects' sake. A phenomenal technician, with an almost supernatural ability to "turn on a dime" with her pianist (going from a furious feel to one of calm within the space of a measure, an invaluable ability in Beethoven's music), here she over-does effects that simply have no place in the music (indeed, they are not even written in), and more importantly, are there only to highlight her abilities as a violinist and not the glory of the Beethoven sonatas. Her overuse of colors, turns, and other truly unnecessary effects in Beethoven's music amount to an insult of the music, as if it is not able to stand on its own merits. Of course, no one is arguing for a performance without feeling, but for someone with ASM's credentials to turn in a performance of this sort (especially when all the elements are there for a truly phenomenal music-making experience) is almost tragic.
With that said, this DVD remains a valuable resource for violinists. Anne-Sophie Mutter is without a doubt one of the world's most virtuosic colorists. Even though she uses it to bad effect here, she remains a force to be reckoned with, and therefore deserving to be heard and observed, if only to learn from her technique."
Appealing Enough, But Could be Better Though
BLee | HK | 05/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"All things considered these DVDs not bad at all. The sound is excellent, so is the picture. Mutter's sound is mellow and beautiful and her technique is marvelous. The photography is good, whether it is angle of view or the violinist's dresses. But the effect of the many lines on her face is quite something-- at least giving us an impression that as though she was in great agony. To be fair, the pianist paid too much attention to the violin compromising a bit. But he is not inspiring in any event. Lev Oborin maintained a better equilibrium even though it was Oistrakh that he was playing with. It was B/W though and they only played a few of the sonatas. Musically, Kempff (with Menuhin) did a much much better job , but that was available CD only.Here it seems that Mutter was probing deeper into the music. One gets the feeling that she has digested some of Menuhin's way of expression though not completely- and that would not be desirable in any event. At one point or two, she might be overdoing things a bit and some notes do seem to live, at least they're not quite convincing enough. But that is rare and on the whole, these are very enjoyable perfomances. So unless you have some strong preference, these recitals are appealing enough for most if not all of the audiences."