Anyone would assume from the title Tango Song and Dance that this album contains performances of Piazzolla and friends, representing an effort on the part of Anne-Sophie Mutter to cash in on the recent tango craze. Actually, the only tango-related piece here, the title composition by Mutter's husband André Previn, was written in 1997 before that trend really got started in classical music. Instead, Tango Song and Dance offers a collection of dance-inflected pieces that diverges from Mutter's usual serious fare but benefits equally from her commanding musical personality. These performances are great fun and, for the most part, will take you back to the days of the star virtuoso. Previn joins Mutter on piano for his own work, and their complementarity -- he is suave, she intense -- is delightful. The work sounds not like Piazzolla but like Ravel composing a tango; its final movement is in a 7/8 time that cleverly trips up the tango feel. Some reviewers have reproached the liberties Mutter takes with the Joseph Joachim transcriptions of three Brahms Hungarian Dances, but it's hard to imagine that Joachim, in Brahms' own time, would have done any less. Only in a group of selections from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess does Mutter seem out of her element; she executes the Jascha Heifetz arrangements flawlessly, but despite former jazzman Previn's presence, it ain't got that swing. Mutter's usual sideman Lambert Orkis returns to the keyboard for three Fritz Kreisler encores, however (Previn plays only on the Gershwin and his own piece), and Mutter takes command once again with swooping, sentiment-drenched thrills. Fauré's Violin Sonata No. 1, Op. 13, a tuneful piece with a whiff of the music hall, makes an unexpected but satisfying conclusion. In all, a wonderful outing for a great artist who deserved to lighten up.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Tango Song and Dance, for violin & piano|
|Selections (5) from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, arrangement for violin & piano|
|Sonata for violin & piano No. 1 in A major, Op. 13|