For German superstar violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, appearing in recital with her longtime accompanist, pianist Lambert Orkis, Sunday afternoon at Benaroya Hall, life has been a swirl of anniversary celebrations the last couple of years.
Mutter’s 35th anniversary on stage — she made her public debut at age 13 with the Berlin Philharmonic under conductor Herbert von Karajan — was feted in a big way in 2011. Deutsche Grammophon released a boxed set of 40 CDs reflecting Mutter’s recorded legacy, while other 2011 albums included new works dedicated to her by various composers.
And last year was the 15th anniversary of her Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation, which offers financial support to young string players and the opportunity to tour with Mutter as part of her chamber ensemble, Mutter’s Virtuosi.
Mutter’s 1988 Carnegie Hall debut will be noted this December when she performs at the legendary venue in a 25th anniversary concert featuring world premieres of music by Krzysztof Penderecki and André Previn.
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Are these and other current milestones in a long career a help or a distraction to an artist’s perspective?
“I’m a work in progress,” says Mutter by phone from Kitzbühel, Austria. “My repertoire is not always to do with celebrating something. Still, as you get older, one gets more grateful for life in general, and it just happens there are more occasions to celebrate.
“But be sure I will not be having a huge celebration for my (50th) birthday coming up. I’ll keep that private!”
Two anniversaries will factor into Mutter’s Benaroya concert. This year marks a quarter-century collaborating with Orkis, a founding member of the Kennedy Center Chamber Players and principal keyboard for the National Symphony Orchestra.
“Having such a fruitful collaboration for so many years is not something you take for granted,” Mutter says. “We have lived through difficult periods in both our lives. There is a lot of life that we share onstage, and it brings us musically closer together.”
The other noteworthy commemoration is the centennial birthday of the late Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski, whose Partita for Violin and Piano will be a highlight of Mutter’s program on Sunday. Lutoslawski, who died in 1994, fled German capture during World War II, saw his First Symphony banned by Stalin, and supported Poland’s Solidarity movement in the 1980s.
His 1984, five-movement Partita was written for Pinchas Zuckerman and Marc Neikrug. But Lutoslawski wrote a later version of the Partita for violin, piano and orchestra, dedicating it to Mutter. (Mutter and Orkis will be playing the original in Seattle.)
Also on the bill is Mozart’s Sonata No. 27 in G major for Violin and Piano, Schubert’s Fantasy in C major and Saint-Saëns’ Sonata No. 1 in D minor for Violin and Piano.
“This is repertoire Lambert and I feel very close to,” says Mutter.
“The Mozart is not the usual three-movement sonata. We love it because it’s so unusual, a powerful, short piece. Schubert’s Fantasy is one of the most sophisticated, beautiful pieces ever written for violin and piano. The last movement has, for Schubert, a very funny, surprisingly positive outlook on life. A gorgeous piece of music.”
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org