Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Philadelphia-born pianist Lambert Orkis have been playing together for 25 years. Their meeting in 1988 was, according to Mutter, ‘a stroke of luck’. Celebrating that kinship, Deutsche Grammophon has released The Silver Album, with world premiere recordings of works by Krzysztof Penderecki and André Previn, alongside favourite encores and re-releases. But if this disc makes you think of any precious metal, then it’s gold rather than silver, thanks to Mutter and Orkis’s unflaggingly burnished tone.
The double-disc survey opens with a punchy rendition of Beethoven’s Seventh Violin Sonata, in which the pair offers fiery counterpoint and lustre in more lyrical passages. It’s an approach that pays equally impressive dividends in Brahms’s Second Sonata and Hungarian Dances, as well as Penderecki and Previn’s new works for the duo. The solo La Follia, by the Polish composer, is full of Baroque flash and finesse, while Previn’s Second Violin Sonata bridges past and present with considerable panache.
Sometimes the duo’s intensity threatens to overwhelm. Preferring swagger to lilt, Technicolor to pastels, Mutter and Orkis somewhat overstate Kreisler’s gorgeous Old Viennese Melodies and Massenet’s ‘Méditation’. These inspired miniatures need a more delicate silver, whereas Mutter and her unfaltering partner work best in high-carat gold.
Artists: Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Lambert Orkis (piano)
Gavin Plumley has written for The Independent on Sunday, The Guardian, Classical Music and BBC Music Magazine.