Violin

Viktoria Mullova

“To hear Mullova play Bach is, simply, one of the greatest things you can experience.” (The Guardian)

Credit: Henry Fair

Introduction

Viktoria Mullova’s extraordinary talent first garnered international attention when she won First Prize at the 1980 Sibelius Competition and the Gold Medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1982 which was followed, in 1983, by her dramatic and much publicized defection to the West. She has since appeared with most of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors and at the major international festivals.
Viktoria has had a life-long affinity with Bach and his work makes up a large part of her recording catalogue. The year 2000 saw her venturing into creative contemporary music with the album “Through the Looking Glass” in which she played world, jazz and pop music arranged for her by Matthew Barley. This exploration continued with her second album ‘The Peasant Girl’ which she has toured around the world.
Highlights of her 16/17 season include a tour with Accademia Bizantina and Ottavio Dantone to the US, Canada and Asia, a tour of France, appearances with Orchestre National de Lyon, Venice Baroque, Il Giardino Armonico at Sommets Musicaux, Gstaad and a tour of Belgium with Le Concert Olympique. Viktoria will also give solo and duo recitals with Katia Labèque throughout Europe.
Viktoria either plays on her ‘Jules Falk’ 1723 Stradivarius or her Guadagnini violin.


Performance Schedule

  • 19 May 16 Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1: 19 May 2016
    London Symphony Orchestra/Antonio Pappano, Barbican
    More info  

    “The opening ‘Nocturne’ brooded, expressed urgently by Mullova in terms of intensity, the LSO dark in support, she becoming even more remote when her instrument was muted. Savage strokes of the bow informed the ‘Scherzo’, an apoplectic dance, woodwinds (not least bass clarinet and contrabassoon) as spectres, abrupt changes of tempo well-judged. The painful emotions of the ‘Passacaglia’ were fully brought out, reaching heights of distressed ecstasy, Mullova really inside the anxiety expressed (as she has been for many years). And then the withdrawing from the world into the extensive cadenza, which retains musical integrity with the movements either side of it, the final ‘Burlesque’ high-spirited, yes, but in this account more about breaking a stranglehold rather than seeking an ovation, which was earned anyway. Mullova’s response was some slow unaccompanied Bach, very expressive, subtly decorated, and a sublime contrast with what had gone before.”
    Colin Anderson, Classical Source, 19 May 2016

  • 24 Aug 15 Prokofiev CD
    Onyx Classics
    More info  

    “This is unquestionably one of the finest modern performances of the Second Concerto.”
    Norman Lebrecht, Sinfini Music

  • 22 Oct 14 Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1: 9 October 2014
    Hallé / Sir Mark Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
    More info  

    “She gave an exhilarating account of the work, full of passion, precision and power. She showed real understanding of the dramatic shaping the concerto demands, from the deceptively restrained opening Nocturne, played with great delicacy, to the dazzling exuberance of the solo cadenza of the third movement. And in the closing Burlesque we found her skipping along with technical bravura.”
    Philip Radcliffe, The Arts Desk

  • 01 Apr 14 Stradivarius in Rio CD
    Onyx Classics
    More info  

    “What wins out here is Mullova’s sheer dancing virtuosity in Tico tico and Brasileirinho – these are as dazzling as the sights and sounds of Brazil.”
    Nicholas Kenyon, The Observer

    “This is music like a warm breeze with an easygoing lyricism at its heart…There’s a gentle, bittersweet quality in the Tom Jobim tracks but a real energy in Brasileirinho, in which Mullova’s bow dances across the strings with a virtuosity and panache few could match.”
    Simon Broughton, The Evening Standard

  • 26 Mar 13 Duo Recital: 24 March 2013
    Paolo Giacometti (Fortepiano), Wigmore Hall, London
    More info  

    “The sheer grip and intelligence of her playing is a force that cannot be denied for long, and so it proved in the forceful opening movement of the A minor Sonata, Op 23. There was tingling delicacy in the andante and flawless momentum in the finale.

    The Spring Sonata in F, Op 24, companion piece to the A minor, enabled Mullova to show a different side of her playing, with fluent lyricism in the opening movement and finely spun tone and controlled bowing in the adagio. But Mullova is at heart a no-nonsense player and there was plenty of emphatic phrasing and steely tonal discipline to underline her determination that this would not be a traditional interpretation.

    Best of all was the Kreutzer Sonata, Op 47, with which she ended. Here the superlative technique and the bold new interpretative strokes and insights came together in an irresistible performance, with Mullova’s crisp incisiveness driving the whole thing forward in all three movements, but never at the expense of Giacometti’s equally virtuoso contributions from the keyboard.
    Martin Kettle, The Guardian

    “This music sounded as though new, with the balance between the instruments permitting a light and flexible approach and allowing their respective timbres to blend beguilingly.

    While Mullova’s pure line exuded cool authority, Giacometti played with the most subtle refinement, with the slow movement of the ‘Spring’ sonata expressing a tender collusion surely closer to what Beethoven intended than what we are used to today.”
    Michael Church, The Independent

  • 22 Oct 12 Bach Solo: 22 October 2012
    St George's, Bristol
    More info  

    “She was technically superb: the bariolage passages in the Third Partita were thrilling, the delineation of individual voices in the G minor Fugue eloquent. And there’s both the sense that this is music she’s lived with and that she’s still exploring it, finding new nuances and shades of meaning, right there, in concert.

    For part of the programme, Mullova played from a tatty-edged score with a blue cover from which blazed in white ‘Bach’. The Second Partita in D minor, with its masterful 15-minute final Chaconne, was the pinnacle of the concert; Mullova gave a performance of intensity and inevitability. It felt like we had got to the heart of Bach. And at the end she brought her bow down slowly to her side and held it still, with a look of seeming sorrow on her down-turned face or forfeiting inwardness.”
    Rebecca Franks, BBC Music Magazine

  • 25 Sep 12 Bach Solo: 25 September 2012
    Christuskirche, Freiburg
    More info  

    “There is a rare beauty to be found in the ‘normality’ of human nature, in which the sense of just ‘being’ transcends any degree of artificial decoration or finery. Viktoria Mullova’s performance of Johannn Sebastian Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin in the Christuskirche, Freiburg was the embodiment of this sense, and her exquisite interpretation, therefore, was all the more startling and deeply moving… This was Mullova being Mullova, playing Bach because she feels compelled to, and because it exists to be played. It was engaging, refreshing and, above all, stunningly beautiful… The clarity in which Mullova presented each individual voice gave the music a stark three-dimensional quality, some phrases appearing to come from a far-distant plain, others astonishingly forthright and present… She exhibited a broad spectrum of articulation at all times, a plush legato and dancing, transparent staccato both contrasting examples of her conscientious attention to the fine details of phrasing. It was this, in combination with a spontaneous sense of freedom, which made her performance so invigorating.”

    Nicholas Reed, Bachtrack

  • 21 Dec 10 Beethoven Violin Concerto: 21 December 2010
    LSO / Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Barbican, London
    More info  

    “Mullova [was] pure of tone and feisty of manner without sacrificing beauty of phrase, spoiling the line or forfeiting inwardness.”
    Colin Anderson, ClassicalSource.com

  • 12 Nov 10 Stravinsky Violin Concerto: 12 November 2010
    Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vanska, Minnesota
    More info  

    “The Stravinsky Violin Concerto is a work of agitated, stuttering rhythms, serving its snatches of melody in small bites. Mullova met all of its demands impeccably, delivering its complex chords with becoming roughness, its lyrical lines with disarming clarity, and its clustered musical ideas articulately.”

    Rob Hubbard, The Pioneer Press

  • 28 Oct 10 Stravinsky Violin Concerto: 28 October 2010
    London Symphony Orchestra/Kristjan Jarvi, Barbican, London
    More info  

    “Mullova shone in ‘Aria II’, her tone rich and expressive, capturing fully the mood of anguish… Mullova breezed her way through the trickiest of passages but nonetheless imbuing them with sparkle and wit to bring the work to a rousing conclusion.”
    Andrew Maisel, ClassicalSource.com

  • 02 Oct 09 Bach Recital: 2 October 2009
    Ottavio Dantone (Harpsichord), Wigmore Hall London
    More info  

    “She is simply a fabulous instrumentalist, with a mixture of physical agility and mental concentration that the numerous young pretenders could still learn from.”
    Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph

  • 16 May 09 Brahms Violin Concerto: 16 May 2009
    Philharmonia Orchestra/Paavo Jarvi, Royal Festival Hall, London
    More info  

    “Mullova played with an attractive combination of classical purity and inner intensity, bringing poetry to her phrasing but carefully avoiding any sense of sentimentality…With Mullova’s energetic and virtuosic account of the finale, this was altogether a memorable performance.”
    Christian Hoskins, musicOMH.com

  • 29 Sep 08 Duo Recital: 29 September 2008
    Kristian Bezuidenhout (Fortepiano), Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
    More info  

    “Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata came at us in a furious flurry of torment and turmoil, the (literally) guttural rasp of her playing never abrasive but always perfectly attuned to one of Beethoven’s wildest yet most perfectly formed statements. Perhaps even better, what might have been considered marginal repertory – an early Beethoven sonata in E flat, Op 12, Schubert’s Rondo brillante and Sonata in A – came off in terrific style in Mullova’s wonderfully muscular and vigorous interpretations. It sounds like madness, but should she ditch that Strad for good?”
    Neil Fisher, The Times

    “If she didn’t exist, you’d have a job inventing her…as they sailed through this graceful work, [Schubert’s Duo Sonata in A major] followed by the Rondo brilliant, one was struck by the sonic balance between their instruments…Mullova’s immaculate playing gave off a lovely sense of respiration, while Bezuidenhout made the fortepiano sound more beautiful than I have ever heard it before.”
    Michael Church, The Independent

  • 15 Mar 08 Duo Recital: 15 March 2008
    Katia Labèque (Piano), National Concert Hall, Dublin
    More info  

    “Dreamy duo play with rare, electrifying panache.”
    Pat O’Kelly, Independent Ireland

Discography

Stradivarius in Rio

Viktoria Mullova has recorded her first album of an eclectic range of Brazilian music. Mullova’s rich musical curiosity spans multiple genres and this new album features arrangements and improvisations on music and classic songs by the legends of Brazilian music. It features works by Caetano Veloso, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Marisa Monte, and Zequinha de Abreu.

This is the first non-classical project she has wholly created and produced on her own.  Mullova’s idea to record the songs came about during the course of several informal gigs and jams with friends over the years. Gradually the idea for the project took shape, and Mullova formed the group to include guitarist Carioca, from Rio, cellist Matthew Barley and two percussionists: Brazilian Luiz Guello, and Paul Clarvis, with whom she previously collaborated on two non-classical music albums. In August 2013 she took the group to Rio de Janeiro to record the album over three thrilling evenings.

Mullova explains: “Quite simply, I love this music! I always loved getting together with this bunch of creative people and I found that one of the essential things in preparing for this recording was to learn how to improvise, something I’ve never done in my life! It was very challenging but in the end a very satisfying thing for me to begin to learn.”

The Peasant Girl

Viktoria Mullova and Matthew Barley, married but working in very
different musical fields, collaborate for the first time in ten years to
celebrate the phenomenal influence of gypsy music on classical and jazz
in the 20th century.

Having conquered the most sophisticated
works of Western Classical Music at the highest level, Viktoria Mullova
here shares another side of herself and looks to her peasant roots in
the Ukraine to continue her journey into performing this direct and
colourful music. Having collaboarated on the Through the Looking Glass
project a decade ago, Viktoria is now more comfortable in the
non-classical idioms of her husband’s world and the pair are immensely
proud of what they have achieved with this project.

Gypsy music
is at the heart of all their chosen music, from Weather Report to
Kodály, and from Bartók to Yousso N’Dour. The music is arranged by
Matthew, with fellow musicians, friends and long-time collaborators
Julian Joseph (piano), Sam Walton (percussion) and Paul Clarvis (drums)
very much in mind. The aim has been to create a hugely entertaining and
distinctive sound, and the programme also makes a statement about
Viktoria, Matthew says: “how she relates to the world, and more
importantly to the music she loves and plays. She loves simplicity, and
emotional directness and power, as well as virtuosity that comes from
the heart and for the heart.” The pair hope that “this binding factor
will prove more important than any definition of genre. Music is music.”
Read Press Reviews Here

Watch Viktoria Mullova and the Matthew Barley Ensemble recording the CD ‘The Peasant Girl’.