Lisa Batiashvili performs violin concertos by Sibelius and Tchaikovsky

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COMPOSERS: Sibelius,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Deutsche Grammophon
ALBUM TITLE: Sibelius * Tchaikovsky
WORKS: Violin Concertos
PERFORMER: Lisa Batiashvili (violin); Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim


For many years, Lisa Batiashvili has steadfastly resisted incorporating the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto into her repertory, believing that there were too many different views of the work in her head. Fortunately, thanks to the encouragement of Daniel Barenboim she changed her mind and was persuaded to look afresh at the music.

The results in this vividly recorded release are certainly impressive, for Batiashvili and Barenboim have come up with an interpretation which, although lacking the startling audacity of the recent Patricia Kopatchinskaja/Teodor Currentzis release on Sony, places special emphasis on preserving the structural logic of Tchaikovsky’s musical argument and making the orchestra an equal partner in the unfolding of the piece. It’s a performance that eschews emotional hyperbole, focusing instead on poetic intimacy, most obviously manifested in the deeply thoughtful way Batiashvili shapes the warm-hearted melody in her opening entry and in the stunningly beautiful return of the same idea from the Berlin Staatskapelle’s principal flautist following the violin cadenza. Batiashvili’s lyrical playing in the Allegro moderato and Canzonetta gives way to a more extrovert display of virtuosity in the Finale. Yet even here, Batiashvili and Barenboim offset this exuberance with a wonderfully sensitive approach to the more reflective passages in the movement.

This remarkable partnership of musical minds also excels in the Sibelius, the glacial opening passage in the first movement being especially hypnotic. In the profoundly unsettling orchestral tuttis later on, Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle really come into their own, delivering playing of devastating power that makes me wonder why on earth the conductor has so far not recorded any of the Finnish master’s symphonies.

Erik Levi


Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.