Anne-Sophie Mutter hadn’t been in the Twin Cities for seven years, so the celebrated German violinist decided it was time to check back in with her local fans. “I don’t want to lose my audience,” she said by phone from San Francisco last week. “But the world is very large, and for an artist who is playing only 80 to 90 concerts a year, it sometimes takes a while to get around.”
Mutter is on a two-week tour of the United States — a swift, concentrated schedule that allows many dates and gets her back home with her children on the Austrian border.
At the Ordway Center on Monday, Mutter will dispatch music of Mozart, Schubert, Lutoslawski and Saint-Saëns in a Schubert Club program with her longtime collaborator, Lambert Orkis.
Reviews frequently comment on Mutter’s glamorous strapless gowns (“I have to wear something!”) but the attire serves a purpose. She likes the feel of her 1710 Stradivarius on her bare shoulder. It’s more comfortable and produces a better sound.
“The only issue is whether the humidity of the skin would affect the varnish,” she said. “But that has not been a problem, and I am not a big sweater.”
Mutter, a two-time Grammy winner, should not have a problem with perspiration in cold St. Paul.
Q Are you ready for a change in weather?
A Are you snowed in? I’ll get my scarf out. But I’m used to severe winter in Germany, where we now have snow up to your knees.
Q You have a varied program on this tour.
A Yes, I’m playing Schubert and that was a wonderful coincidence that I am playing Schubert with the Schubert Club. The program consists of the pieces which Lambert and I have played together and fondly love, like the Schubert [Fantasy in C Major]. That is one piece we enjoy coming back to because it is probably the most sophisticated work written for piano and violin. That said, the Lutoslawksi [Partita for Piano and Violin] is key to the program because he was the composer in 1986 that really opened the door for me to the future of music, contemporary music.
Q Do you treat favorite pieces as though they are your children?
A They never talk back to you. But they are very difficult to grasp. These pieces have a life of their own, and the classical work is burdened with stylistic expectations and you have to dig deep to remove all that and find your own personal approach.
Q In 1994, you spoke of the anxiety you felt right before the concert stage door opened each night.
A Anxiety is not the word I would have ever used. Other than sometimes in the plane when it starts making noises. And since I have seen the film “Flight,” I am really checking out carefully all the pilots. No, anxiety is not part of my stage life. Excitement and tension are what I feel, and you are totally geared up to that moment. And once you are on stage, you are confronted with yourself and what you are capable of bringing to the stage at that very moment. Let’s be honest, it’s always a work in progress.
Q You and Lambert have worked so long together that you’re really collaborators, yes? Except that you’re the star.
A That is just the label applied. So let’s remove the label. We had a wonderful musical start in 1988. You never know, in a personal or musical relationship where each of these individual beings are headed to. We are both curious musicians and he is so rooted in contemporary music. I am just a beginner compared to that. And his passion for period instruments and historic performance style has contributed to my interpretation of Beethoven. My style has rubbed off on him as well.
Q Did you once talk about possible retirement?
A (Laughs) I’m 49, for God’s sake! No one would retire at 49, particularly not an artist. Should I? Are you tired of me being on stage?
Q Not at all. Do you have a favorite classical work you are listening to?
A I love silence a lot because I am doing music so much. So when I am at home, silence is really key. The first recording I bought at the age of 11 was Bruckner Four. Bruckner is not terribly popular, particularly in America, and that’s a pity. He is a little like the German language where you have this sentence that takes forever to unfold and then there is this verb at the end of it — which is key to everything you’ve heard the last 10 minutes. Bruckner is pretty much in that direction.
Q Have you done anything fun on your tour?
A I was at the Oscars last weekend! I wanted to meet Dustin Hoffman. I was so honored that he chose “Quartet” for his directorial debut. It shows his love for music and the film is just beautiful.
Q Did everyone there know who you were?
A Are you kidding? Can we change the subject please?
Q It’s too bad great musicians are not as popular as film stars.
A Nah, that’s not necessary. As long as Schubert is popular. I am just a servant of the form.