Can the Ice Queen cut it as Club Queen?

Can the Ice Queen cut it as Club Queen?


norman lebrecht

August 17, 2015

From my Album of the Week on

If, as the prophet so aptly put it, the Ethiopian can change his skin and the leopard his spots, there is no reason to imagine that Anne-Sophie Mutter can’t do a club night. The Ice Queen of the violin, Germany’s first international virtuoso of modern times, has been awoken to club culture by her 20-something children and would like to have a slice of the action. Promo videos for this release show her chatting up a young audience in a Berlin den and generally acting in a manner altogether out of character from her aloof and self-absorbed concert-hall persona.

So how did she perform? Read here.

anne-sophie mutter


  • milka says:

    Did she really play the dreadful Schindler’s list theme ??

    • CDH says:

      Practically obligatory these days. Who hasn’t played it? Perlman, Zukerman, Benedetti, etc. I agree that as a concert piece it is awful. I didn’t particularly notice it in the movie, which is probably a good thing — basically I suppose the film score supported the moods of the film itself unobtrusively.

  • Pedro says:

    A few months ago ASM played a superb Sibeliius violin cto in Paris with Nelsons and the Concertgebouw. Great artists doing music together. Unforgettable.

  • M2N2K says:

    Going out on a limb here, I must confess that for some mysterious reason I trust ASM’s musical taste much more than I do milka’s.

    • milka says:

      Schindler’s ???? and musical taste ??? laughable ……………..

      • M2N2K says:

        Apparently not to Anne-Sophie Mutter, and, being an admirer of her outstanding musicianship for the last 30+ years, I feel very comfortable going there with her.

        • milka says:

          Having heard in concert Kreisler , Elman ,Heifetz Milstein , Menuhin ,Szigeti,Francescatti,
          and among the ladies , Parlow , Morini Nevue, Haendel ,Wilkomirska I’m afraid that while
          delightfully filling out a dress your favorite violinist is not in the same league as the above mentioned talents ,one suspects her playing fills the needs of those with modest expectations .

          • M2N2K says:

            That is a mightily formidable group of men all of whom left this world decades ago – in the previous millennium, to be more specific. Judging by the available recordings of the female part of this list (since I am not old enough to have heard most of them live) in comparison with those made by Anne-Sophie Mutter, the latter is a certainly a better violinist than any of them were, with possible exception of Ginette Neveu who was truly outstanding but unfortunately died much too early. By the way, it is very likely that some of the great ones on the male part of your list would not be above performing the piece in question if they were alive and well today.

  • Zenaida says:

    I attended the Berlin Yellow Lounge events at which these sessions were recorded and thoroughly enjoyed the evening as the event it was, not more, not less. Would I buy a CD of it? Not necessarily. The memories of the live event are enough.

  • Robert Moir says:

    Anyone who has spent any time with her in the past few years knows that the “aloof and self-absorbed concert hall persona” is a thing of the past, and is probably not surprised to see her making decisions that put her in direct contact with her children’s generation. She’s smart enough to realize that to insist on further calcifying the foundation of classical music’s ivory tower is to further alienate the artist and art form from Generations X, Y, and Z. Kudos to ASM for finding ways to connect.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Nope. In concert, she’s the same. Seldom a smile, never an encore.

      • CDH says:

        Same with Hilary Hahn. One of the chilliest performers I have ever seen. I have never chosen any of her recordings as I keep remembering her remote concert hall presence and it puts me off enjoying admittedly fine work.

      • Robert Moir says:

        I have seen her both smile (on stage) and play encores in the last few years. On two tours with the Pittsburgh Symphony she played an encore after every performance. At times she also traveled with the orchestra and befriended several of the players. I do not argue with the “Ice Queen” image of her earlier years, I experienced it myself more than once. But in all of my experience with her since 2010 she has been warm, relaxed, and easy to work with.

      • Holger H. says:

        How can you call the violinist with the warmest, emotionally charged and versatile tone in the scene an “Ice queen”? Only if you are not listening and are staring at her this is possible.
        She is so focused and in an imaginative sonic and musical world on stage, that she doesn’t care about the outer world. That is what makes her so fascinating and sonically rich.
        What some (men?) have a problem with apparently, is that she also looks gorgeous, which makes them not be aware of the outstanding sounds that she creates on her instrument. Next time listen to her with eyes closed.

  • Graham says:

    Anyone who saw the superb live relay of ASM playing the Tchaikovsky from the Salzburg festival yesterday morning could not describe her as aloof and self absorbed.

  • El Grillo says:

    I’ve never found Anne Sophie to be an Ice Queen. In fact I think she’s very scientific, even in her ability to relate to the emotions in a piece of music. With her, you hear why Beethoven didn’t forsake music, even though he was forced into it by an alcoholic father; and the softness beyond words he found there that has nothing to do with creating an effect just to have a following, but it’s about how the music was there for him to deal with otherwise insurmountable trauma. She’s also different to me in that she’s not making quite, even embarrassingly, obvious decisions allowing her celebrity to promote this or that world famous ensemble (or idea) so that they remain world famous, and then in turn maintaining her own celebrity, as if that and the good will it involves is what it’s about, and when one isn’t playing that game you’re seen as….

    That’s what I think, honestly. I have become irritated seeing some self promotion that seems to go along with personality cult forming, but that’s so widespread I think I could literally pick on anyone, myself included. She does joke about that, was asked how one could create another Anne Sophie Mutter (or something akin); and then said at first she wasn’t interested in reviving the whole monster, and then that she wasn’t into Frankenstein, then she apologized to the interviewer that she had understood perfectly her question, but she likes really bad jokes; and went on the explain how the demand for everyone to become a soloist in these times has become so much greater, it takes away from all of the other musicians and their vital part.

  • Alvaro says:

    Short and to the point: classical music in clubs is as dumb as a tuxedo on a rave.

    If people can pay hundreds of pounds and SHUT THE @#$#@%^ UP when need to to watch golf or Wimbledon, why cant they do the same for classical music? But thats not populist – that doesnt engage ‘kids’ or ‘new audiences’.

    The entire industry has fallen in a vicious cycle in which every orchestra should be El Sistema ad nauseam. Its both degrading and disgusting.

    Wimbledon and the US open show that if people see a good reason why, they will both shut up and pay large sums of money for an otherwise very particular activity.

    Now, if only artist administrators had brains…..or knew anything about business management….

  • milka says:

    She will do whatever it takes to make a buck – encores , smile
    and even play dreadful music …’s about survival

    • M2N2K says:

      As a listener, I could not care less WHY a musician performs a piece (money, pleasure, fame, therapy, whatever) – that is none of my business and it does not make any difference to me when I am listening. All I am interested in is HOW the piece is being performed – the musical result. Knowing ASM’s playing for over three decades, I am fairly confident that if she chose to perform something, that means she found enough musical substance in it and since her violinistic quality is consistently very high, her performance of the piece is virtually always worth hearing. Maybe I would make an exception for her playing of her ex-husband’s music, but this is different.

    • Holger H. says:

      You sound like a very bitter and frustrated person. Who are you? What have you created?