Anne-Sophie Mutter at Carnegie Hall

Friday, November 17th, 2006 | All Things, Eats, Music

Another Carnegie Hall concert. This time, SYB and I decided to forego the usual pre-concert trip to Burger Joint in favor of something different. After weighing the alternatives, we settled on Pam Real Thai. SYB had never been there — which was a bit surprising since I’ve eaten there about half a dozen times in the last few months — so he was looking forward to making the Thai taste comparison. We arrived just before the dinner rush, and quickly decided upon Fried Tofu, Steamed Chive Dumplings and the Pad Key Mao (stir-fried flat noodle with beef, chili, basil and garlic, which we decided would be our baseline of comparison.) And of course, our flame-quenching Thai iced tea and coffee.

The noodles were far less incendiary than those we had on our other outings, probably because we did not specifically request “Thai spicy.” I have to admit that I did miss the heat, just a little bit.

As usual, a solid meal otherwise. Interestingly, in all the times I’ve been to Pam’s, I’ve never once ordered dessert. Maybe one day. Durian with rice pudding, anyone?

Fried Tofu

Steamed Dumplings

Pad Key Mao

So we were back at Carnegie Hall for the second of German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter‘s three all-Mozart programs. In honor of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 250th birthday, Mutter launched Das Mutter Mozart Projekt — an ambitious series of four new Deutsche Grammophon CDs containing all of Mozart’s major compositions for violin. To complement and promote the recordings, Mutter and her accompanist Lambert Orkis have been performing Mozart recitals all over Asia and Europe. This month, they conclude their tour in the United States, with concerts in St. Paul, Chicago, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.

Tonight, Mutter was performing a set of five Mozart violin sonatas: the C Major, K. 296; the F Major, K. 377; the D Major, K. 306; the E-flat Major, K. 302; and the A Major, K. 526.

Carnegie Hall Lobby

Piano on Stage

Mutter’s playing was dependably pretty (The New York Times quibbled: at times, too pretty, at the expense of texture and nuance) and technically prodigious. Mutter is known among classical musicians as something of a diva. She lends an undeniable star power to any concert, and few soloists attack their Strads the way she does. She’s a dynamic — and let’s face it: strikingly beautiful — performer. 2006 also marks the 30th anniversary of her debut at the Lucerne Festival, where she was discovered as a 13 year old. A year later, she appeared as a soloist at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival under the baton of flamboyant conductor Herbert von Karajan. The German popular press has covered her avidly ever since: through her marriage, while in her twenties, to Detlef Wunderlich, von Karajan’s lawyer and tax adviser who was then more than twice her age; after Wunderlich’s death from cancer in 1995, her second marriage to the oft-wed, also much senior pianist, conductor and composer Sir André Previn in 2002; their subsequent divorce in August of this year. (The former couple continues to collaborate professionally.)

In addition, there has been occasional grumbling over Mutter’s seemingly out-of control salary demands; it’s reported that she earns over $3 million performing sixty dates a year. For two seasons in the early 1990s, Mutter was effectively blacklisted from performing in London for refusing to cut her standard £10,000 performance rate. She eventually discounted her price, earning herself back in the London Symphony Orchestra‘s good graces. A good investment: the LSO booked her Mozart Project sonata cycle, and is paying the star a budget-busting £30,000 for each of three concerts. Compare that to the £25,000 per year earned by the second violinist of Hallé, Britain’s longest-established symphony orchestra, after fifteen years tenure. Do celebrated soloists have a moral obligation to subsidize their fees to assist financially struggling institutions?

Our seats this night were not quite second row center, but rather second to last row. Still on the parquet, though, and for $10, no complaints. And Mutter came out for one encore, before taking her final bow.

Orkis and Mutter

There are 2 Comments ... Anne-Sophie Mutter at Carnegie Hall

November 26, 2006

Nice close up view of the piano, but why are there two benches?

November 26, 2006

Probably set up for the page turner (that Orkis didn’t use.)

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