Anne-Sophie Mutter concert with locals sold out despite music change

Anne-Sophie Mutter explains why she dropped 'heavier' piece for sold-out Philharmonic shows

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 3:58am

A change of programme has had no effect as Hong Kong awaits Anne-Sophie Mutter's debut with the local flagship orchestra.

Both concerts, beginning tonight at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, are sold out despite the change from Dvorak to Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto to mark the renowned violinist's first appearance with the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

"The world is so big, and I recently performed for the first time with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra," the violinist said.

No stranger to Hong Kong from her previous recitals and with visiting orchestras, the German said her decision to perform with a local orchestra was based on programme diversity.

"I always carefully look into my last five or six appearances or years in a given city and try to avoid any repeats in the programme, and offer something new and different, and that's how I come to debut with the Hong Kong orchestra," she said.

Her current Asian tour will feature her two latest commissions for "knowledgable audiences", including tonight's Asian premiere of Time Machines, a seven-movement work by contemporary American composer Sebastian Currier, written for and premiered by Mutter in New York last year.

"It is a very tricky piece and I have seen orchestras like the New York Philharmonic struggling with it," Mutter warned with a laugh.

She said this "intense and forceful" work was the reason for her dropping the Dvorak concerto, which would be too heavy with the Currier piece.

The idea behind featuring a pair of mixed concertos was to offer "a healthy balance" for the audience, to hear something they feel safe with and something totally alien that requires an open mind and patience .

"But everyone will at the end get their wonderful dessert, which is the gorgeous Mendelssohn concerto," she said, adding that she would play her expensive 1710 Stradivarius.

"The wonderful aspect of working with a living composer is that you get told once, if you are lucky, that you got it right. But with the dead composer it's always guesswork. But of course, the great part is they never criticise you, whereas the living one can kick you," she said.

The concert will be the debut for young British conductor Michael Francis, who has recorded and toured with Mutter since 2009, and to whom she hopes to impart the "work ethic and relentless search for a new musical approach" that she learned from her mentor, the late maestro Herbert von Karajan.

"Besides, I think it will be interesting for the orchestra to work with a conductor who knows precisely what he wants and how to achieve it in the new piece," she said.