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The very first notes of this extraordinary performance show how thoughtfully Anne-Sophie Mutter has approached the work. Sibelius's marking for the solo violin is dolce ed espressivo
, which for most violinists would mean "with vibrato". But Mutter plays senza vibrato
and achieves a hauntingly expressive effect over the muted pianissimo
oscillations of the orchestral violins. Happily, she sustains this high level of engagement with the score through the entire account, playing the taxing solo part with riveting intensity, making every note count, producing a gloriously rich and varied tone, and giving the listener a memorable musical experience in the process. The effect of all this on André Previn and the Staatskapelle Dresden, to paraphrase Mark Twain, appears to have been prompt and electric. They give a spectacular reading of the score, one notable for both its sonorous depth and its sense of atmosphere. --Ted Libbey