I love Anne-Sophie Mutter and I was privileged to see the American debut of Sofia Gubaidalina's In Tempus Praesans in San Francisco in February 2009. It was extraordinary and monumental. When I discovered there was a behind the scenes dvd of this concerto in the making, I snapped it up and I was not disappointed. Several years ago this work was commissioned for Ms. Mutter and she waited for it for 15 years. The documentary tells of how the composer writes and very much uses mathematics to structure her work. In fact the score for this looks nothing like a traditional score and when Ms Mutter first receives it to start playing , has to set an electronic metronome to assist her with the correct tempo. The documentary also shows the composer discussing her connection to Ms. Mutter by their names, she felt a kinship of sorts just by having similar first names and the name Sophia relating in a religious way. We get an example of how time consuming and important a copyist is once they get a completed score and have to input every note and composer instruction into the computer. It is painstaking work and just as important as the composition itself. If the copyist get one note wrong or miss-interprets the composer's instruction, it can throw everything off. And finally Ms. Mutter allows a rare glimpse into her preparation for a new work, including a run through with the composer and their first meeting. We see Ms. Mutter working very hard to play this piece for the composer, and the composer listening intently with barely a look on her face until the piece is completely over. This is when she tells Ms. Mutter, "You have understood everything!" This in turn meant everything to the soloist who is completely impressed by this new and challenging work she has been given.
Ms. Gubaidalina lived for many years under the oppression of communism in Russia before emigrating to Germany in the 90's. One hears this conflict and strife in this work, and one can appreciate how long it takes for a composer to write something like this. This work is not just a showcase for the violin. This work was composed for orchestra without the violin section. The only violin you hear is the soloist, but it is a work for the whole orchestra. Unfortunately there is not a complete performance here, I suspect due to contractual rights of the Berlin Philharmonic that debuted it. The recording is available to buy here on Amazon. But I highly recommend this dvd for the specific info that entails writing something like this and the soloist preparation.