Mutter still takes her music seriously
By David Perkins
From boston.com (The Boston Globe) - November 14, 2006
Every so often, Anne-Sophie Mutter says, someone finds a quote she gave an interviewer a decade ago about retiring early, and she has to explain herself all over again.
Since she is among the world's great violinists, one of the few with the big, round tone of such old masters as Zino Francescatti and David Oistrakh, as well as a beautiful woman in her prime, retirement would be news. An interviewer on the French-German TV channel Arte picked up the old quote last month, asked her about it anew, and got this response, according to MusicalAmerica.com: "Yes, yes, I said it. It is my plan to stop when I reach my 45th birthday." (That would be June 2008.) "Nevertheless, it is not the precise date which counts."
So is she really retiring? "Not true. I'm sorry to tell you that. It was a total misunderstanding," she said by phone yesterday. Mutter was in Chicago, on a tour that brings her to Symphony Hall with a program of Mozart sonatas tonight. "I was trying to make the point that I take music seriously," she said. "I don't want to go onstage out of habit. I want to take time to learn and enjoy my music, and sometimes it takes me a long time."
If there isn't publicity-mongering in this vagueness, it certainly can't hurt a career like Mutter's to have people speculating about its end. In fact, all the evidence points the other way. In Chicago, she was looking over a concerto written for her by Sofia Gubaidulina. Mutter will premiere it with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic in August, then repeat it with the Boston Symphony under James Levine next fall.
"I only have the violin part, and without harmonization it's hard to get a clear picture of it, but it seems to be one long movement, and as I expected it's extremely intense and colorful," she said. "I'm already finding places I'm falling in love with."
Mutter will also perform the world premiere of Sir André Previn's double concerto for double-bass and violin in April with the BSO under Previn, her former husband. A Previn double concerto for violin and viola is in the works, perhaps to be unveiled, she says, on Previn's 80th birthday in April 2009. And Pierre Boulez has promised her a violin concerto.
Mutter has sprung back from dark times. Her first husband and the father of her two children, Detlef Wunderlich, died of cancer in 1995. In 2002, she married Previn; they were divorced in the summer but continue to collaborate. "I've known André for many decades, and I've always been his greatest fan. I've never known someone that gifted," she said. "We stay very close friends, and I will play many more of his pieces."
Mutter has spent the Mozart anniversary year performing Mozart concertos and sonatas, to the accompaniment of CD releases by Deutsche Grammophon. It's also the 30th anniversary of her debut at the Lucerne Festival, where she was discovered. Can you have too much Mozart? "A musician can never get tired of him, and the violin repertoire covers such a large life span," she said. "In our recitals, Lambert [Orkis, her accompanist] and I arrange the Mozart sonatas from three different periods of his mature career, so that you have this great crescendo of compositional imagination."
Next season Mutter will focus on concertos, and the season after that she will do more chamber music, including string trios with two favored partners, violist Yuri Bashmet and cellist Lynn Harrell.
And it's important to remember there's a world beyond music.
"I was recently teaching one of my Korean students, an incredibly talented girl, who was starting the Debussy sonatas," she said. "And after the first few bars, I didn't know where to start with her, to explain how different French music is stylistically. So I broke off the lesson and went with her to a museum and showed her the French impressionists. That clicked. You need to get out of your shell."