EIF 2015: The Mutter Virtuosi, Usher Hall, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
The Mutter Virtuosi
Penderecki, Duo concertante for violin and double bass; Previn, Nonet for two string quartets and double bass (world premiere); Bach, Concerto in D minor for two violins BWV1043; Vivaldi, Le quattro stagioni Op 8.
Anne-Sophie Mutter (director, violin), Ye-Eun Choi, Fanny Clamagirand, Wei Lu, Albrecht Menzel, Mikhail Ovrutsky, Agata Szymczewska, Noa Wildschut, Nancy Zhou (violins), Vladimir Babeshko, Hwayoon Lee (violas), Pablo Ferrandez, Maximilian Hornung (cellos) Roman PatkoIó (double bass)
Knut Johannessen (harpsichord).
Running time

The Mutter Virtuosi was paying its first visit to the Edinburgh International Festival with a concert of string music that included a world premiere by Previn, the recently written Penderecki, and then, going back centuries, Bach and Vivaldi.

Their glamorous founder, the German born violin player Anne-Sophie Mutter, led her players on stage each time. Without a conductor she was in firm control albeit with the friendliest and lightest touch. Were we witnessing a masterclass, I wondered. In fact she had brought fourteen current and former scholarship holders and selected young musicians from the charitable Foundation she set up in 2011.

For its United Kingdom premiere, Anne-Marie Mutter was joined by double bass Roman PatkoIó for Krzysztof Penderecki's Duo Concertante commissioned by the Foundation for them. It proved a tight sophisticated contretemps between two very different instruments and all the more enjoyable for it.

For its world premiere of André Previn's Nonet for Two Strings Quartets and Double Bass, again written for them, the double bass acted as the mediating force between the two sets of two violins, viola and cello. At times they were in opposition and then in unison and overall an extraordinarily enjoyable work - certain to find itself in the repertoire.

If what we had heard so far was new, the Bach Concerto in D minor for Two Violins was familiar territory. Except that between its three movements was a quick shuffle so that Nancy Zhou could be the leader for the first movement, Ye-Eun Choi for the second and Noa Wildschut, the youngest of all the performers, the third.

After the interval Anne-Sophie Mutter led her entire team on stage for Vivaldi's The Four Seasons in which she was the solo violin. As season followed season, each easily identified, the Foundation's chosen star performers for this the start to their European tour, were clearly enjoying themselves. And so too the audience which extracted two encores.

Event: 8pm on Wednesday 26th August 2015