Mutter Live - The Club Album

 

Anne-Sophie Mutter Live - The Club Album concert. Anne-Sophie Mutter performs May 7 and 8, 2015 at the Neue Heimat nightclub in Berlin as part of the Yellow Lounge concert series. Features Mutter's long-time accompanist, pianist Lambert Orkis, harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, and the Mutter Virtuosi ensemble. Also features a live video installation by VJ (that's video jockey) Philipp Geist. The setlist is as follows:

  1. Vivaldi 3. Presto from The Four Seasons - Concerto In G Minor, RV 315, "The Summer"

  2. Gershwin Allegro ben ritmato e deciso from Three Preludes

  3. Gershwin Andante con moto e poco rubato from Three Preludes

  4. Gershwin Allegro ben ritmato e deciso from Three Preludes

  5. J.S. Bach. Allegro (3rd movement) from Double Concerto For 2 Violins, Strings, and Basso continuo In D Minor, BWV 1043 (Noa Wildschut, solo violin II)

  6. Tchaikovsky "Mélodie" from Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42

  7. Vivaldi Allegro non molto from The Four Seasons - Concerto In F Minor, RV 297, "The Winter"

  8. J.S. Bach Vivace (1st movement) from Double Concerto For 2 Violins, Strings, And Continuo In D Minor, BWV 1043 (Nancy Zhou solo violin II)

  9. Brahms Hungarian Dance No.1 In G Minor

  10. Debussy "Golliwogg's Cakewalk" from Children's Corner

  11. Saint-Saëns Introduction et Rondo capriccioso

  12. Debussy "Clair de lune" from Suite bergamasque

  13. Copland "Hoe-Down" from Rodeo

  14. J.S. Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria"

  15. Arthur Benjamin "Jamaican Rumba"

  16. John Williams "Theme from Schindler's List"

What is this all about? Here goes: The "Yellow Lounge" is a PR campaign of the Deutsche Grammophon recording company. The Yellow Lounge mission is to get classical music before audiences of young people, mostly or entirely by performing in night clubs. The logo of the Yellow Lounge is an abstraction of the famous yellow "picture frame" logo that has been used by DG on its recordings for a long time. The Yellow Lounge also has a motto: "use your ears as eyes." Here at HDVD, our version of the motto would be: "use your eyes as ears." (Younger readers may be familiar with the DVD title Lang Lang at the Roundhouse. This was an earlier and similar Sony initiative to evangelize the dating set.)

So The Yellow Lounge is not a specific place. The DG promotion started in Berlin with performances at various venues. DG tried to export the idea to London, it seems, and maybe other cities.

Die Neue Heimat (New Home) is a place. It's a hippy shopping center with restaurants, bars, and at least one nightclub where people dance to DJ music, etc. If you're lonely and in Berlin, visit Revaler Str. 99 (Ecke Dirschauer Str.), which is now, I guess, the Pickup Center of Galaxy Avant-Garde. Look for this sign across a driveway to a huge old barn-like building:

Mutter Live - The Club Album was recorded in May 2015 (and reached my mailbox 4 months later) at the main dance floor in the middle of the Neue Heimat club. The show "recreates the impact" of a show Mutter performed in 2013 at another Yellow Lounge event. My guess is that the program for Mutter Live - The Club Album is similar to the 2013 show. But this time, DG also hired video jockey Philipp Geist to back up Mutter with an installation. Throughout the concert, you see weird videos on the walls. Pretty soon you realize that the ghostly but vivid images are partly of Mutter and her group playing! (At first I thought this was just part of a night-club environment that makes cool images of club patrons with their best dance moves. But now I think the images were provided special for this concert.) Well, for sure you know you are not at Wigmore Hall. 

Finally, although not a word is said about it in the Blu-ray package or in the PR, this was recorded with 96kHz/24-bit sound sampling (according to my Oppo BDP-93). Released 2015, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B+

If you have stayed with me this long, you deserve some screenshots. The first set of music includes "Mutter's Virtuosi." The 1st violins are Ye-Eun Choi (concertmaster), Nancy Zhou, and Fanny Clamagirand. 2nd violins are Agatha Szymczewska, Noa Wildschut, and Albrecht Menzel. On viola are Vladimir Babeshko and Hwayoon Lee. Cellos are Kian Soltani and Pablo Ferrández. Dominik Wagner is on bass:

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Lambert Orkis has been with Mutter as long as many of the patrons in the club have been alive:

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Mahan Esfahani on harpsichord:

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Mutter works the crowd pretty well. With all the special lighting, the club was in fact super hot, not cool. Somewhere I heard the heat threaten to melt the finish on Mutter's Stadivarius:

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A club patron:

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14-year-old Noa Wildschut plays with Mutter the third movement of the Bach Concerto for 2 Violins :

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Here's another shot of Noa and, I think, Hwayoon Lee:

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Nancy Zhou plays with Mutter first movement of the Bach Concerto for 2 Violins:

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Slim pickens for the guys on cello (Pablo Ferrández left and Kian Soltani right).  But with all those beautiful girls around, they show plenty of enthusiasm:

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The rest of our screenshots better show the Geist video installation:

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Some of the Virtuosi have to make curfew, so Mutter plays the second set alone with Orkis:

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This short program might be called a violin and chamber music sampler.  You probably are familiar with every number. But this is all you could ask of an audience that is largely standing or sitting on hard surfaces.  Also, the assumption was that the folks who normally go to the Neue Heimat were unwashed and in need of saving. Mutter and company stay in attack mode playing the presto numbers about as fast as the laws of physics allow while maintaining immaculate accuracy. The slower numbers are delivered in a relatively sentimental manner. Considering the nightclub atmosphere and the actual heat faced by the performers and patrons alike, this was a gutsy undertaking.

There were two concerts on consecutive evenings. The venue did not allow many people to actually watch the performance. So this was an expensive event per head. The real payoff has to come later in terms of bragging rights and PRcoin.

And, of course, there would be the hope that younger consumers will buy The Club Album recordings. DG sprang for elite sound recording specifications and the music sounds quite good considering the primitive environment of an old barn set up for dancing to ear-destroying DJ music. The video was also made under battlefield conditions and is edited to please viewers with the attention span of 1 to 2 seconds. (There is no chance that anyone will nod off.)

I noticed some stutter and choppiness in the video on my home system. I later saw this in a near-reference HT, and the motion artifacts were worse there than at my home. Because DG used 96kHz/24-bit sound, we start with the grade of A+. I'll make deductions on account of the judder, the clutter, and the relatively light-weight  program, which brings me to an "B+." If you are too old or staid for this kind of thing, remember this is action behind enemy lines. Don't ask me to reduce the grade any more---just don't buy this title.

Update on 2016-09-17 by Henry McFadyen Jr.

Noa Wildschut was 14 when she appeared in The Club Album. Here's a quote from Norman Lebrecht in his Slipped Disc blog today: "Warner Classics have snapped up an Anne-Sophie Mutter protégée, the Dutch violinist Noa Wildschut. Noa, who is 15, has been giving concerts around Holland since she was seven. Her mother is a violin teacher, her father plays viola in the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and her recital partner, Yoram Ish-Hurwitz, is also her uncle."