COMPOSERS: Johannes Brahms; Clara Schumann
LABELS: Deutsche Grammophon
ALBUM TITLE: Brahms • Clara Schumann
WORKS: Brahms: Violin Concerto in D; Clara Schumann: Three Romances, Op. 22
PERFORMER: Lisa Batiashvilli (violin), Alice Sara Ott (piano); Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielmann
CATALOGUE NO: 4790086
I know that value can’t be measured purely by duration, but this is stingy measure in these straitened times, and it would have to knock the spots off the competition to justify its full-price tag. It doesn’t, quite, despite Lisa Batiashvili’s impeccable technique and sense of timing.
One problem is the recorded sound: in the opening tutti the orchestra sits well in the hall, with a natural sense of perspective, even though some of Christian Thielemann’s tempo changes are a bit clunky. Then Batiashvili enters, absolutely in-your-face, and with an enormous amount of what sounds like artificial reverberation.
Things do improve and her quieter playing is better integrated, so the Adagio, with a beautifully played oboe solo, comes off better than the outer movements, and allows her seamless legato and tonal sophistication to shine. It’s a welcome surprise to hear the Busoni cadenza in the first movement, but the finale doesn’t have the roughness its Hungarian character demands.
Clara Schumann’s short Romances (recorded in a different venue) are much more satisfying, with Batiashvili and Ott having the sort of interplay I missed between her and Thielemann.