Viktoria Mullova – Artist in Focus … Mullova Ensemble

Septet in E flat, Op.20Schubert
Octet in F, D803

Viktoria Mullova & Adrian Chamorro (violins), Pierre Lenert (viola), Manuel Fischer-Dieskau (cello), Heinrich Braun (double bass), Pascal Moraguès (clarinet), Marco Postinghel (bassoon) & Guido Corti (horn)

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 28 September, 2008
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Queen Elizabeth Hall

Viktoria MullovaIn the third and final (afternoon) recital focussed on Viktoria Mullova, it took a little while for the Beethoven to get going, for the players to ‘talk’ to one another. Then, when the air did fill with meaning, there were different levels of seeming involvement – Manuel Fischer-Dieskau (son of Dietrich) offered the broadest of smiles and encouraging glances, while Viktoria Mullova herself, however impeccably she played, tended to insularity. That’s what the eyes saw. The ears heard a reticent cellist and violist, a violinist with pin-point clarity and real leadership and a genius clarinettist whose control of colour, dynamics and expression was astonishing.

If the first movement of the Beethoven was over in a flash (no exposition repeat), the lullaby-like Adagio cantabile that follows had beguiling serenity if over-length in context, its foil being the ensuing Minuet that chugged along merrily. Perhaps the highlight was the fourth-movement Variations, Beethoven at his most ingenious if taking against the horn-player (here Mr Corti had time to overhaul his instrument!) before urbanity returns for the last two movements, these musicians saving something for a nifty sprint to the finishing post.

Whilst just as entertaining, Schubert’s Octet also goes wider and deeper, music touched by human experience. Here the faster music had infectious vitality and the slower passages were heart-touching, not least the second-movement Adagio and the sad refrains of the penultimately-placed Minuet; the finale, after its suspenseful slow introduction, bounced joyously to another Gold-winning dash to the close.

If goalposts were not moved in terms of appreciation of either work, there was much to admire in the sheer professionalism of each musician.

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