Anne-Sophie Mutter's Beethoven Concerto was recorded live at the final subscription concerts of Kurt Masur's long tenure as the New York Philharmonic's music director. The beautifully played orchestral part is a tribute to his leadership. Mutter plays with a silken tone and astonishing technical command of her instrument--absolute ease in the stratospheric tessitura of the solo part, and an amazing array of microdynamic adjustments that display the infinite variety of pianissimos at her command.
She continually varies phrasing, so moments of ethereal beauty are often followed by finicky lapses into mannerisms. For all her instrumental brilliance, the results are curiously unmoving. The depths of the music's emotions remain elusive, her virtuosity veering perilously close to showboating at times. Similar comments apply to the two Romances, whose verdant songfulness needs more lively tempos and straightforward playing. Mutter's fans will want this disc. Others may turn to Heifetz, Perlman, Suk, or Grumiaux. --Dan Davis