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Exciting Highlights Dampened by Weak Support
on 7 March 2007
It's easy to get used to listening to near-perfect recordings and performances of The Four Seasons. With so many recordings available, you can have your pick of styles.
I remember confidently ordering tickets for a local group's performance of The Four Seasons in Salzburg one summer. How could I go wrong? The performance started off in fine fashion. The soloist was huge, confident, and energetic. The rest of the group was solid and enthusiastic. But after about 12 minutes, the soloist began to come apart at the seams. He couldn't complete the difficult sections in Summer. The group would restart and restart. I was fascinated.
I had almost forgotten that experience when I first listened to this recording. Such violin soloist flubs are unknown in the mature Anne-Sophie Mutter's recordings. But I was astonished to find that her supporting cast of Trondheim Soloists (led by Bjarne Fiskum and including soloists Byvind Gimse, and Knut Johannesen) was apparently playing a different piece, and not very well. Ms. Mutter is also credited as conductor. I suspect that she should have scheduled many more practices.
The recording also has moments when another take would have been in order.
But I learned something valuable from listening to Ms. Mutter soar about the muddled noise: It matters who else is playing with you for The Four Seasons.
If you are an Anne-Sophie Mutter fan (as I am), you'll undoubtedly want to listen to this CD. But I think you'll be more pleased if you limit yourself to the first allegro from Spring from The Four Seasons for 3 minutes and 36 seconds during which the Trondheim Soloists perform okay in the Simply Anne-Sophie CD. Good editing choice there.
I graded Anne-Sophie's playing as a five, the recording quality as a four, and the Trongheim Soloists as a 1.