Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova’s dramatic defection to the West

Posted on: September 12, 2019

“It’s understandable that Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s next concert is prosaically titled ‘Ashkenazy and Mullova,’ ” writes Richard Betts in Tuesday’s (9/10) New Zealand Herald. “The legendary Russians”—violinist Viktoria Mullova and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy—“are, after all, the biggest classical stars to visit New Zealand in 2019. But the show could as easily have been called ‘Resonances.’… The concert features the Sibelius Violin Concerto…. Vladimir Ashkenazy settled [in Finland] many years ago, having married a Finn; Viktoria Mullova won the Sibelius Violin Competition. Tchaikovsky is also on the bill…. Ashkenazy left the Soviet Union in 1963 … 20 years before Mullova herself defected to the West. Her own tale is like something from a Cold War spy thriller. … In Finland … with … conductor Vakhtang Jordania, who was acting as her accompanist [and] aided by a Finnish journalist and … wearing blonde wigs, the pair ditched the hapless KGB agent assigned to accompany them and slipped across the border into Sweden…. Mullova left her Stradivarius violin … abandoned on the bed of her Finnish hotel. Her relationship to the country of her birth remains ambivalent…. Mullova performs in Russia occasionally, and played there earlier this year.”

Posted September 12, 2019