Violin

Viktoria Mullova

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

Credit: Henry Fair

Introduction

“To hear Mullova play Bach is, simply, one of the greatest things you can experience”, wrote The Guardian. One of the world’s greatest violin virtuosos, Viktoria Mullova’s musical horizons continue to expand. She has journeyed into the world of jazz and world music, she works regularly with the period ensembles such as Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Il Giardino Armonico, Accademia Bizantina and Venice Baroque as well as appearing each season with top international orchestras and conductors.

Highlights of the 18-19 season include performances with cellist Matthew Barley of Dusapin’s “At swim – Two birds” with Seattle Symphony Orchestra (Ludovic Morlot) and London Philharmonic Orchestra (Andrés Orozco-Estrada).  Viktoria is Artist in Residence at The Sage, Gateshead, appearing in recital, concerto and with her ‘Stradivarius in Rio’ programme, where she is joined by Matthew Barley, Paul Clarvis and João Luís Nogueira Pinto. She gives solo recitals in Japan, China and the UK, alternating between two violins in the same programme, with gut strings for Bach and metal strings for contemporary music. With Katia Labèque, she performs in recital at Edinburgh Festival and starts new collaborations with fortepianist Alasdair Beatson, playing Beethoven Sonatas on gut strings, and with the double bass player, jazz musician and composer, Misha Mullov-Abbado, with whom she is touring and performing their ‘Music we Love’ programme.

Her most recent project, “Stradivarius in Rio” sees her exploring the music of Brazil. A CD of the same name has been enthusiastically received and she is presenting the project in concerts throughout Europe.

As well as her own projects, she has also commissioned works from composers such as Pascal Dusapin, Fraser Trainer, Thomas Larcher and Dai Fujikura.

Viktoria either plays on her ‘Jules Falk’ 1723 Stradivarius or a Guadagnini violin.


Performance Schedule

 
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    13 Nov 18 Seattle Symphony Orchestra Dusapin: At Swim-Two Birds

    “Mullova led the way in establishing atmosphere, Barley joining in and further embellishing their duologues. Even in the most overtly virtuosic passage—a frenzied outburst of perpetual motion on the violin—Mullova projected a gripping emotional honesty that was echoed by Barley’s passionate phrasing on cello.”

    Musical America, 13 Nov 2018

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    01 Oct 18 Pärt: Darf ich, Fratres, Passacaglia, Spiegel im Spiegel Recording

    “Viktoria Mullova brilliantly manages to tease out these dichotomies…Lighter feather-bedding is applied in the fourth variation’s rapid triadic ostinatos, creating an almost symphonic effect. ”
    Gramophone Magazine, October 2018

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

    “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

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    24 Aug 15 Prokofiev CD
    Onyx Classics

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

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    01 Apr 14 Stradivarius in Rio CD
    Onyx Classics

    “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

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

    “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

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

    “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

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    25 Sep 12 Bach Solo: 25 September 2012
    Christuskirche, Freiburg

    “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

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    21 Dec 10 Beethoven Violin Concerto
    London Symphony Orchestra/ Sir John Eliot Gardiner

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

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

    “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

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

    “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

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

    “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

Discography

Music we love

Viktoria Mullova, violin
Misha Mullov-Abbado, double bass, composer & arranger

Vika and Misha have been working on a duo programme with many different pieces for violin and double bass, both arranged by Misha and composed by him. The programme will include some of his compositions for violin, violin & bass, bass solo, arrangements of the songs they like to sing and play, Brazilian, Hebrew, Estonian tunes, pieces by Bach, Vivaldi, John McLaughin (arr. by Gary Husband).

Programme is around 1 hour 15 minutes, without interval.

 

Stradivarius in Rio

Widely recognised in classical music as one of the world’s leading virtuosos, Viktoria’s latest project features an eclectic range of Brazilian music. Mullova’s rich musical curiosity spans multiple genres and this new project features arrangements and improvisations on music and classic songs by the legends of Brazilian music. With works by Caetano Veloso, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Marisa Monte, and Zequinha de Abreu to name a few.

The project is in Quartet form with Mullova (violin), Matthew Barley (cello), Paul Clarvis (percussion) and João Luís Nogueira Pinto (Brazilian guitar)