Preview: Viktoria Mullova Plays 'For The Living', Prom 21, Royal Albert Hall, London

Twisty rhythms of colour
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The Independent Culture

Mullova is back. She has made a CD of boisterous Vivaldi concertos (Onyx 4001) and her first commissioned violin concerto, for the living, by Fraser Trainer, has its Proms premiere on 30 July. Was it awkward picking up the violin after eight months? "For the first few minutes. And it was painful, because the callouses on my fingers had gone. But otherwise it was easy."

Born in Moscow in 1959, Mullova became an sensation after defecting to the West in 1983. Critics remarked on her extraordinary technique, but also her coolness. She remembers it as sheer terror. Even today she still admits to being unable to relax when performing. "Relax? I'm petrified." It's not all bad - Mullova met her husband, the cellist Matthew Barley, at the Proms, when he came to congratulate her.

Mullova has recently been working with Barley's jazz-fusion ensemble, Between the Notes, on a project with Gloucestershire young musicians, which they'll bring to the Proms on "Violin Day". They'll play Knots, a jazzy, syncopated piece by Trainer. Mullova's bold, bright violin spikes in and out of the cello, marimba and clarinet lines. "It's very strong, very structured, but full of twisty rhythms," Barley says. "Vika's violin will be amplified so it can be heard over whatever's going on."

A more passionate, earthy aspect of Mullova's playing is revealed in the Vivaldi concertos. "I don't like interpretations which are very nice, very elegant," she says dismissively. "Baroque music played like that is so boring. With Il Giardino Armonico, we find the colours in the music."

30 July (020-7589 8212; www.bbc.co.uk/proms)

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