- - Sunday, April 26, 2015

Virtuoso violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony, are zealous champions of outstanding instrumentalists through their musical laboratories, the Mutter Virtuosi and the New World Symphony, respectively.

Washington Performing Arts will present Miss Mutter, Mr. Thomas and the New World Symphony in an evening of works by Franz Schubert, Claude Debussy and Alban Berg and the D.C. premiere of Norbert Moret’s “En Reve” for violin and chamber orchestra.

“I wasn’t drawn to the Berg violin concerto when I was first introduced to it in my late teens,” Miss Mutter told The Washington Times. “I couldn’t find any emotional connection. It was not until I was an adult and had my first child that the concept of losing a child hit me strongly.”

The concerto tells the story of a girl. The work opens in a celebratory humor with waltzes representing her memories of a happy day. The second movement becomes a lament as she falls ill, with text culled from the Bach cantata “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort” (O eternity, you word of thunder).

“As the music reaches the final stanza that begins with “Es ist genug” (It is enough), the girl is placed into God’s hands,” Miss Mutter said. “The work is very Freudian and transparent. The audience will appreciate it best if they read the story behind it and be on the lookout for the colorful orchestration.”

Berg dedicated the 12-tone work to the memory of Manon Gropius, the daughter of architect Walter Gropius, and his wife, Alma, the former wife of Gustav Mahler. Berg dated the score in August 1935 and died Christmas Eve the same year at the age of 50.

“En Reve,” for violin and chamber orchestra, was a commission for Swiss composer Norbert Moret, who never achieved great fame but was highly regarded as a conductor, pianist and teacher.

“This is [a work] that pairs well with the Berg,” Miss Mutter said. She recorded the work in 1988 and then revived the work in time for Moret’s 100th birthday.

“So much time had passed that I had to relearn the entire piece,” she said, “and [I] discovered again what a gem it is. He created this piece without my input. When I plan a commission, the only thing I discuss in advance with the composer is the role of the violin, whether it is a solo instrument or part of a chamber piece. I am always humbled by the finished product.”

Miss Mutter’s resume includes world premieres of 22 commissions by such composers as Henri Dutilleux, Krzysztof Penderecki, Andre Previn and Wolfgang Rihm. Her three Grammy Awards for best instrumental soloist performance with orchestra share shelf space with her Grammy for best chamber music performance of Beethoven: The Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-3 with pianist Lambert Orkis

When she is not performing and recording, Miss Mutter is deeply involved with the Mutter Virtuosi, which performed at the Kennedy Center in November.

“I was very lucky to have parents deeply in love with classical music and jazz, so it was not unusual for me to start this profession at a very young age,” she said. “Life as a musician is like life as an athlete: We dream about becoming professional very early, so it seemed natural to found my first group when I was 22.

“I’ve helped a number of young string players and have enough to build my string orchestra. We have fun previewing new works and will soon perform Andre Previn’s second concerto for violin and strings.”


WHAT: Washington Performing Arts presents: New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy, featuring conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, the New World Symphony and Anne-Sophie Mutter

WHERE: Kennedy Center Concert Hall, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20566

WHEN: Tuesday, 8 p.m.

INFO: Tickets $35 to $85 by calling 202/467-4600, 800/444-1324, 202/785-9727 or visiting Kennedy-Center.org or WashingtonPerformingArts.org

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