Stories » Lisa Batiashvili | Daniel Barenboim - Tchaikovsky | Sibelius Violin Concertos / Musical Toronto review

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Lisa Batiashvili | Daniel Barenboim - Tchaikovsky | Sibelius Violin Concertos / Musical Toronto review

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Thirty-seven-year-old Georgian-born violinist Lisa Batiashvili has emerged as one of the two or three leading violin soloists in the world today. Having won the Sibelius Competition at sixteen (1995), she has been astounding musicians and audiences alike ever since. Few violinists today play with Batiashvili's combination of remarkable technique, tone quality, maturity, and expressiveness. Last year, Deutsche Grammophon released a classic version of the Brahms Violin Concerto with Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden. This year, DG has given us near-definitive recordings of the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius violin concertos, with Lisa Batiashvili as soloist.

The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, one of the most overplayed pieces in the repertoire, comes up fresh and consistently engrossing in this new recording. Batiashvili has no trouble with any of the formidable technical issues, nor does she try to do anything radical in the way of interpretation. The finest artists, one might note, seldom change tempos, dynamics or phrasing in strange ways; rather, they get to the heart of what the composer intended with an accurate rendition of the score. A case in point is the solo section between the two big orchestral tuttis in the first movement. Batiashvili finds a light-hearted dance quality in the music that I had never noticed before. It is charming and sounds absolutely right. Thankfully, Barenboim does not go out of his way to make the accompaniment sound ‘different;' he simply insists on accuracy, beauty of tone, and careful attention to balances from his musicians. The result is a classic interpretation of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

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