The Immensely Talented Batiashvili
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The young and inordinately talented and beautiful Elisabeth ('Lisa') Batiashvili has conquered Europe and is making strong impressions here in the USA. She is an artist to watch and follow as her intelligence and musicality make her an important member of the echelon of important young violinist of the time. In this very beautifully balanced recording the listener is treated to a live performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor, recorded in 2007 in Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland with Sakari Oramo conducting the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra as well as the World premiere recording of Magnus Lindberg's Violin Concerto.
Batiashvili's approach to the Sibelius is one of moody atmosphere and she early establishes the plangent themes of the first movement and allows those themes to grow to the point of explosive energy without ever pushing the sound to the point of stridency. The second movement Adagio glows with a stillness and simplicity rarely heard from other interpreters of this concerto and the final movement Allegro is an incisive interaction with the orchestra. The performance is a live recording so the balance between the violin and the orchestra favors the soloist. Batiashvili's phrasing is impeccable and the overall performance contains the drama too often missing from studio recordings. This is a very fine Sibelius recording.
The second work on this solid CD is the Violin Concerto by Magnus Lindberg and is an excellent pairing - two Finnish concerti played by a violinist clearly associated with both Sibelius and Lindberg. The work is in three unmarked movements and displays all of the lush orchestration and creative idea developments that mark this important composer's works. Batiashvili brings sumptuous, rich sound to the extended lines and compelling dexterity to the fiendish, rapid sections. Hers is a very dramatic approach that suits Lindberg well. This concerto, in its world premiere recording, is immediately accessible to the listener, but it is also obvious that repeated listenings will uncover many of the fleeting, beautiful lines he has written for both the soloist and orchestra. For now, the concerto belongs to Batiashvili. Oramo offers strong collaboration form a lushly recorded studio setting of this mighty score. For those who love the Sibelius concerto this is a recording to cherish - enhanced by the introduction to yet another great violin concerto by Lindberg. Grady Harp, April 08"
Lindberg continues his more relaxed recent style, with somew
Christopher Culver | 12/15/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Lisa Batiashvili is one of the most prominent young violinists, and this 2007 Sony release showcases her talents in two Finnish violin concertos. Sakari Oramo leads the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The first piece on the disc is Jean Sibelius's Violin Concerto of 1903-05. While I am beginning to explore Sibelius' oeuvre in order to better understand his influence on later and greater composers like Per Norgard, I must admit that I don't find this late Romanticism all that compelling. I bought the disc for the Lindberg.
Magnus Lindberg wrote his Violin Concerto in 2006 and dedicated it to Batiashvili. Lindberg's mature music has usually been characterized by a rich emphasis on harmony in lieu of straightfoward melody, as well as frenetic orchestation that exploits every instrument. Indeed, he has quipped that his favourite instrument is the orchestra. Unfortunately, Lindberg's music has been becoming considerably more mellow of late, with his Clarinet Concerto of 2003 an absolute disaster of slow lyricism, a pace which just doesn't work with Lindberg's compositional language.
Things have gotten somewhat better in the Violin Concerto. Lindberg has been highly inspired by his old school chum, clarinettist Kari Kriikku and cellist Anssi Kartunen, and he has written a number of pieces that push those instruments to the limits. But here we here, for the first time, prominent use of extended techniques on the violin, which are often quite thrilling. The textures are more sparse than before, with a small classical orchestra lacking flutes, clarinets, and timpani, and the tempo is generally held back, so Lindberg will at least keep the fans he got with the clarinet concerto. Nonetheless, things never get too calm, and there is a powerful sense of momentum behind even the slower sections. The work has three movements. The first two each exceed ten minutes, while the third is only four minutes yet packs in quite a bit with its fast pace. In the first movement the music journeys all over the place to return twice to a sort of plateau, and this fixed point is a new matter in Lindberg's music.
So, in terms of musical content Lindberg in no way repeats himself with the violin concerto like a certain other prominent Finnish composer (Rautavaara) is shamefully doing. Still, I wish that Lindberg would continue these new explorations in the same caffeinated vein of his earlier music. It's worth repeating Anssi Kartunnen's observation that the room Lindberg wrote two of his great mature works, "Cantigas" and the "Cello Concerto", vitamin bottles, empty energy drink cans, and cigars were strewn about.
It is objectionable that on this disc a label yet again exploits the good looks of a young female soloist for marketing purposes. There are no less than nine photos of Batiashvili, some in lurid poses, while the less marketable Sibelius, Lindberg, and Oramo are nowhere to be seen. And Sony tends to have the least informative liner notes of any major label."
Spectacular Sibelius and Lindberg Violin Concertos from Bati
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 08/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having heard Lisa Batiashvili perform live with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra last season, I knew I was in for a treat with her 2007 recording of the Sibelius and Lindberg Violin concertos. Her rendition of the Sibelius violin concerto - now regarded as one of the genuine classics of the violin concerto literature - may be the finest I have heard lately, that is replete with ample emotional color as well as virtuoso technical playing; qualities which shouldn't surprise the listener since she made her triumphant international debut playing this concerto back in 1995 at the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki, placing second at age 16 as its youngest ever competitor. Not surprisingly, this is a work she has treasured for years, and one that has much personal as well as musical meaning for her. Of equal importance is the violin concerto composed by Magnus Lindberg for her that she debuted two summers ago with New York City's Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. More than Sibelius' concerto, the Linderberg piece emphasizes virtuoso playing. Musically it is a fascinating contrast between traditional Classical forms and contemporary musical ideas that are musically accessible to the listener; this is a work that deserves to be heard often in concert halls throughout the world. In both works, Batiashvili has able, quite sympathetic, partners in conductor Sakari Oramo and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; in particular, the orchestra's winds and strings offer exemplary playing in both works. In the liner notes Batiashvili refers to the "Nordic qualities" of both works as among the most important reasons why they share this recording; it is an interesting assessment that I can't argue with, judging from the sterling musicianship of this fine artist.