Tchaikovsky, Sibelius: Violin Concertos

Lisa Batiashvili / Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin

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Tchaikovsky, Sibelius: Violin Concertos Review

by James Manheim

The Georgian-German violinist Lisa Batiashvili has quietly reached the point of being one of the cognoscenti's players in mainstream repertory, with a free-spirited manner married to formidable technique in such a way as to bring to mind the greats of the past. Here she has warm-hearted support from an obviously energized Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle, with strong engineering from Deutsche Grammophon in the Funkhaus Natepastra├če in Berlin. The result is a superior recording of some well-worn repertory concertos. This isn't a single artistic statement; the two concertos were recorded a year apart. But each one is grasped as a living, breathing entity. Get the technical prowess out of the way by sampling the blistering finale of the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47, and turn then to the Tchaikovsky opening movement, where Batiashvili cultivates a restrained purity of expression that Jascha Heifetz would have loved. In the extremely dark, slow movement of the ostensibly less sentimental Sibelius, however, Batiashvili pours on the emotion. Each of the six movements here seems to tell a story in the best Romantic tradition, and in addition to marking a stage in the ascent of a new star, the album handsomely marks Barenboim's diamond jubilee. Highly recommended.

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