Violinist’s Baroque passion on display in period recitalViktoria Mullova is widely considered one of her generation’s three greatest female violinists, along with Kyunghwa Jung and Anne-Sophie Mutter. She is a supremely stylish player with a powerful, modern technique and panache. But she is always ready to put her skills to work in service of the music rather than imposing her personality on everything she plays.
Some critics say that her performances lack warmth. Some go so far as to call her an “ice queen.” In some respects, this is a fair assessment; she usually seems out to impress the audience with her technical, rather than interpretive, skills. But that may be due more to classical-music audiences having become accustomed to musicians who recast practically every piece they play according to their own musical imaginations. Ms. Mullova does not do this, but that does not mean she is not passionate about the music.
She was born in Russia and trained at the Central Music School of Moscow and the Moscow Conservatory. She won first prize in the 1980 Sibelius Competition in Helsinki and the Gold Medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1982. In 1983, while on a concert tour in Finland, she sought asylum, eventually settling in London. She formed the Mullova Chamber Ensemble with a group of like-minded musicians; its inaugural tour in Italy in 1994. The group is acclaimed for breathing life into music new and old. “The great thing in the ensemble is that we all want to be sure of enjoying ourselves,” Ms. Mullova told the online arts journal Culturekiosque. “Otherwise, it simply isn’t worth doing.”
From 1998 to 2000, she took part in a major European recital tour with pianist Piotr Anderszewski, and played separate concerts in Amsterdam, Zurich and Israel.
Since 2000, Ms. Mullova has indulged her passion for the Baroque repertoire by playing period pieces with the London-based period-instrument Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Il Giardino Armonico in Italy. Though she once said in an interview that she would never consider playing a Baroque violin, she now regularly performs with her prized 1723 Stradivarius using a Baroque bow.
The vintage Stradivarius will make an appearance with Ms. Mullova and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Seoul as part of the Mozart Project. The orchestra, which was formed in 1986, does not employ a permanent musical director. Instead it works on a project basis, inviting world-class musicians to join it as soloists or directors for specific shows. For this tour of East Asia, which also takes the orchestra to Japan and Taiwan, Ms. Mullova is the soloist and Catherine Mackintosh, a regular OAE player, is directing.
The ensemble will perform Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major and No. 4 in D major, and Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A major.
by Kim Hae-young
Ms. Mullova and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will perform at Seoul Arts Center at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost from 40,000 won ($34) to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 6303-1919 or go to www.ticketlink.co.kr.
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