Lindberg, Sibelius

COMPOSERS: Lindberg,Sibelius
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Lindberg, Sibelius
WORKS: Violin Concerto, Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Lisa Batiashvili (violin);
Finnish Radio SO/Sakari Oramo
CATALOGUE NO: 88697129362

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Over the last couple of decades, Magnus Lindberg has been making a long trek back from Modernist experimentalism to a more traditional, symphonic kind of thinking: intellectually purposeful, with an increasingly strong sense of an emotional journey at the heart. The big breakthrough was his magnificent Clarinet Concerto. It is adventurous, lyrical, strongly imaginative and, above all, exhibits a triumphant reclaiming of the old Western process of theme and development. Written the previous year, the Violin Concerto (2001) shows Lindberg well advanced on that road, but just a step or two short of its successor’s complete mastery. Still there’s plenty of drama, fire and lyrical beauty here, and the brilliant young soloist Lisa Batiashvili makes plenty of it. This is a searing performance, with strong support from the Finnish Radio Symphony, and the whole performance is superbly recorded.

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The beginning of the Sibelius Violin Concerto is nothing short of awe-inspiring: from the start you realise that this is a soloist of exceptional calibre. Batiashvili’s performance is never less than 100 per cent compelling. But in the end, I’m not sure it tells me anything fresh about Sibelius. Batiashvili isn’t just a superb technician, she also brings intensity to the music; there are times, though, when I wished she might just turn it down a little – the full-on concentrated passion can be hard to take sometimes. And every now and again she adds little emphases which don’t quite convince. As a performance it’s unquestionably stunning – but as an interpretation? Cho-Liang Lin on the Sony label retains its edge for insight combined with fabulous musicianship.