Two of classical music's greatest talents and longtime collaborators have teamed up again: violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and composer-conductor John Williams. On June 3, Deutsche Grammophon will release “Williams: Violin Concerto No. 2 & Selected Film Themes,” which also features three Williams movie tracks that he has arranged especially for Mutter.
“When Anne-Sophie invited me to compose a concerto for her, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to write for one of the world’s greatest artists,” said Williams in a statement. “It was also a challenge, of course, because there are so many great violin concertos in the repertoire.”
Mutter, who will appear with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under Riccardo Muti, in the Beethoven Violin Concerto during concerts June 16-18, said in a statement: “It has been a lifelong dream of mine to have John Williams compose a concerto for me.”
“I can only think of this piece as being about Anne-Sophie,” said Williams, whose score to “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” (1982), will be performed in a live-to-picture presentation June 30-July 2 by the CSO, with guest conductor Richard Kaufman. “I took my inspiration and energy directly from this great artist herself.”
“It has been a lifelong dream of mine to have John Williams compose a concerto for me.” — Anne-Sophie Mutter
The disc also features three arrangements, created for Mutter, of the title theme from “The Long Goodbye” (1973), “Han Solo and the Princess” from “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Marion’s Theme” from “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981). (Next season, the composer-conductor will return to Chicago for “An Evening With John Williams” on March 24, as part of the CSO at the Movies series.)
Last summer, Mutter and Williams gave the world premiere of the Violin Concerto No. 2 at the Tanglewood Music Festival, with Williams conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The DG release also features Williams leading the BSO, recorded last fall at Boston's Symphony Hall.
This latest recording follows the success of “John Williams — The Berlin Concert,” which topped the German pop-music charts earlier this year. A new single and video of the violin concerto’s second movement, “Rounds,” are available now.
Williams and Mutter have collaborated ever since she gave the first performance of Williams’ Markings in Boston almost five years ago. They have enjoyed worldwide success on their two previous albums “Across the Stars” (2019) and “John Williams in Vienna” (2020). “I knew from the recording we made together for DG of my theme from ‘Cinderella Liberty’ [on ‘Across the Stars’] of her remarkable feeling for jazz, so I wrote a quasi-improvisation for solo violin at the start of the concerto’s Prologue, and she was completely at home with it,” he observed in a program note. “There is also much faster music in this movement, which while writing, I recalled her flair for an infectious rhythmic swagger that is particularly her own.
“This is a truly personal album for me, because of the rapport I have with her and because of my long relationship with the wonderful musicians of the Boston Symphony.”
A Blu-ray edition of the disc will be released on Aug. 19; a 10-inch vinyl version of the three film themes, available exclusively from Deutsche Grammophon’s online store, will be released on the same day.
Williams and Mutter are part of an all-star lineup, including Yo-Yo Ma and Steven Spielberg, at Washington’s Kennedy Center on June 23 for “John Williams: The 90th Birthday Gala Concert.” Tanglewood will host its own birthday event on Aug. 20 with special guests Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor and Branford Marsalis.