Anne-Sophie Mutter finds a ‘new home’

The German violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter takes on classical club culture in her latest Deutsche Grammophon release, The Club Album: Live from the Yellow Lounge.

Earlier this year, Anne-Sophie Mutter challenged her ‘Lord Dunn-Raven’ Stradivarius by playing in a jam-packed Berlin nightclub, The Neue Heimat, or ‘new home’. ‘It was extremely hot in the club,’ says Mutter, ‘and in the long run it put a big strain on the varnish. So to prevent the original varnish from becoming damaged we applied a thin protective coat to the Strad where it touches my bare skin. But any instrument over 300 years old is bound to show signs of wear and tear.’

But what’s a Strad, let alone a world famous violinist, doing in a Berlin nightclub? Anne-Sophie Mutter has long felt that her genre, so called ‘classical music’, must explore new venues and fresh strategies lest it be mothballed as yesterday’s art.

‘I wanted to put the audience in touch with the music I love and believe in, music that packs such a huge emotional punch. An audience which, sad to say, I’ll never find in the Philharmonie. So I thought to myself: OK, if there’s a bunch of people who’ll never go to the Philharmonie, I’ll have to go to them. I’ll “stalk” them, so to speak, and go to their club.’

Anne-Sophie Mutter was accompanied on both club appearances by pianist Lambert Orkis and her own virtuosi, young scholarship holders from her foundation for up-and-coming talent: ‘They’re an integral part of my life. They come from Austria, Poland, the United States, South Korea, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Russia and Spain, and they have ideas as to what music can accomplish in society.’

‘I looked at a lot of repertoire… The result was a kaleidoscopic view of the variety of music history, and the variety of music for the violin’, she says. And so the Yellow Lounge programme came about, ranging from the Baroque to the present day, and including works from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Bach-Gounod’s Ave Maria, to the Jamaican Rumba, Gershwin’s Preludes, Aaron Copland’s country fiddling and the title theme from Schindler’s List. 

The audience response was euphoric. And the Strad? It was sent for maintenance work at what its owner calls ‘The Spa’, where it was tidied up to meet the challenges of new centuries and exciting new venues.

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