The man who asked Anne-Sophie Mutter for his money back

The man who asked Anne-Sophie Mutter for his money back


norman lebrecht

May 27, 2023

From a fascinating new interview with Ariane Todes:

‘The funniest thing that ever happened to me was once when I played The Four Seasons and someone came backstage and was furious and said, ‘It was totally different from your recording.’ I was thinking, ‘Gee, that’s a great compliment,’ but he was not kidding. He literally wanted his money back. I suddenly realised there might be listeners out there who will be dissatisfied because I’m definitively not going to replicate what I thought about an interpretation some years ago or even a week ago.’

Read on here.


  • IP says:

    From what I know about Vivaldi and ASM, both the recording and the live must have been bad.

    • Tamino says:

      I wonder if some psychological research has been done, looking into the pathological and extrovert hatred some people demonstrate about interpretations they don‘t like.
      Is it because of the trauma people suffered from the many years of hard classical instrument training, but never reaching excellency themselves?

  • Joe says:

    Mutter should have given his money back with the proviso he stick to listening to records. He might have as well said she looks better in photos than real life and the insult would not have been worse. Gads!

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Very interesting and thoughtful, as I would expect from this artist. Her funny story about the guy who wanted his money back reminds me of a maybe not-so-funny situation: talking to people who genuinely like classical music but know it only via recordings or radio or the internet. They go to their first “real” concert and complain that they can’t hear the violinist. Actually they CAN hear the solo violinist but for sure it’s not right there in your eardrum the way most recordings are made, the total unreality of recording soloist vs orchestra. We are way, way past the generation of listeners who came to the music “live” and only then heard recordings.

    • Hal Sacks says:

      E.Power Biggs was a notorious perfectionist with his recordings, tightly edited. His live performances never lived up to his precise recordings.

      • Micaelo Cassetti says:

        His “Mozart from Haarlem” is superb! Often equalled, but NEVER surpassed. Seat-of-the-pants playing.

    • Peter Dunne says:

      Dear David Nelson,
      Right on. In a Recording when the violin is louder than the orchestra you know the microphones for the soloist are too close or the controls are jacked up. To the neophyte this can be a shock,!
      Peter Dunne

    • Robin Tunnah says:

      Very interesting. I remember when I first started to listen to classical music, both recordings and live concerts, (mostly the Hallé in Manchester, early 1980′) I’d got to “know” the Sibelius violin concerto from the Perlman/Previn/Pittsburg recording. I then heard it live, I think the violinist Pierre Amoyal, and was disappointed in exactly the way you mentioned….. later I realised that Perlman’s recordings often have a very upfront solo violin balance. Now, luckily, I enjoy both, but familiar recordings can still affect my enjoyment of a live performance.

  • henry williams says:

    i once went backstage after an Alfred Brendel recital. one man asked him to
    sign his 6 programmes. he replied i will
    only sign one.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      Umberto Eco signing his “Baudolino”. A guy had 10 exemplars to be signed. Eco signed all of them with a large smile and asked “Are you taking only these ones?”

  • Pooman LePoo says:

    Gosh you’re neither a blogger nor a musician.

  • Kyle says:

    What a sick little rat asking money back for something he doesn’t appreciate. He or she listen to Madona instead and pay twice more to satisfy his soul!

  • PaulD says:

    This is the excuse that some major pop stars give for lip synching at concerts – fans expect the performance to sound like the record. They claim they can’t dance and sing at the same time. I guess these “singers” never watched a video of a Tina Turner performance.

  • Rc says:

    I am a tremendous admirer of Maestra Mutter. However, I attended one of her recitals and came away disappointed. You can’t hit the mark every time.

    • George says:

      I don’t think Mutter gets the maestra/maestro treatment unless she’s holding a baton. How about “violinist Mutter?” Or “fiddler Mutter?”

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    Miss Mutter didn’t make her career as a gold-prize winning perfectionist; she made it as a musician with a distinctive artistry: no one plays like Anne-Sophie Mutter. And, ASM has more music in a single phrase than most other violinists have a whole program.
    I would not trader her humanity for another technique chomper. Given the choice of ASM or, her fellow DG artist Hilary Hahn, I can’t imagine any piece I would opt to listen to Hahn over ASM. Hahn may be as real in life as on recording—so what, all the more reason to stay home and listen in the comfort of home.
    Go ASM! Be real, like the weather

    • Nathaniel Curzon says:

      Appreciating Anne-Sophie Mutter does not require denigrating other great performers. Hilary Hahn is also a fantastic violinist. But each has their own character.

      • Gerry Feinsteen says:

        Hahn is often valued for the consistency in her playing. In a performance she can achieve something remarkably close to her recording standard. It’s a fair comparison because this has pluses and minuses. ASM sounds different in real life, often better but not as mechanically consistent. Many younger listeners of today demand flawless playing, even if it means icy playing; they struggle to listen to a Christian Ferras, Ivry Gitlis, or Ida Haendel because the player is identifiable for their respective qualities and personalities, not a list of their perfections calculated.

  • Jen says:

    Hand them the instrument next time—ask him to demonstrate what he thinks it should sound like—keep being great, Maam!

  • Piano Lover says:

    No one should listen to this “VIVALDI TRASH” no matter who plays it.