Lisa Batiashvili's debut album for Deutsche Grammophon "Echoes of Time" is a matter of the heart - an unusual, very individual and fascinating program by one of the most appreciated young soloists of our days. Lisa focuses her program on composers whose lives and work have been heavily influenced by the political happenings and oppressions in former Soviet Union - like Lisa herself, who went into German exile with her family during the political upheaval in Georgia in 1991.
In a program spanning the whole 20th century, Lisa's album combines (modern) classics by Shostakovich and Rachmaninov with two more recent works - her Georgian compatriot Giya Kancheli's highly atmospheric V&V and Estonian Arvo Pärt'sRead more spiritual Spiegel im Spiegel for Violin and Piano, written shortly before the composer went into exile. The collection is rounded up by two short pieces: an orchestrated version of Shostakovich's elegant Waltz from the Doll's Dances cycle (1952), and Rachmaninov's all-time favorite melody Vocalise , written two years before the composers' emigration from Russia.
For Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel and Rachmaninov's Vocalise Lisa teams up with one of our most distinctive pianists, Hélène Grimaud. The chemistry between these musicians has the potential to create an extraordinary musical experience.
R E V I E W S:
There are many star female fiddlers, but Lisa Batiashvili is special, a violinist of ever-riveting depth and range. This is her Deutsche Grammophon debut, after two excellent Sony discs — one matching Magnus Lindberg's Violin Concerto with Sibelius, the other Beethoven with Georgian miniatures. Living for years in Germany and now France, Batiashvili remains mindful of her origins.
Echoes of Time presents music from the East that evokes a sense of loss — of people, place or just time. Batiashvili grew up listening to her violinist father rehearse Shostakovich string quartets. Aided by the muscular richness of the Bavarian Radio Symphony under Esa-Pekka Salonen, Batiashvili realizes Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with an intensity both emotional and dynamic. Her phrasing in the Passacaglia and cadenza is fantastically subtle, her purity of tone like a blade to the heart. Characteristically, Georgian Giya Kancheli's eleven-minute
V&V for violin, taped voice and strings is filled with nostalgia, but this has a surreal edge, with Batiashvili's floated lines sounding as if someone were singing in their sleep. A chamber postlude sees Batiashvili pair with pianist Hélène Grimaud for the wistful ultra-minimalism of Arvo Pärt's
Mirror in the Mirror, then for Rachmaninoff's beguiling
– Bradley Bambarger, Listen [Spring 2011]
SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto No. 1. Lyrical Waltz. KANCHELI V & V & • Lisa Batiashvili (vn); Esa-Pekka Salonen, cond; Bavarian RSO; Hélène Grimaud (pn1) • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 0298 477 9299 (68:21)
&1 PÄRT Spiegel im Spiegel. 1RACHMANINOFF Vocalise
Lisa Batiashvili’s debut recording for Deutsche Grammophon has as its center of gravity Dmitri Shostakovich’s by turns darkly brooding and bitingly sarcastic First Violin Concerto. For many years the work’s dedicatee and first performer, David Oistrakh, seemed to defend his primacy easily against all challengers. Critics would hold up recordings by violinists like Itzhak Perlman, Viktoria Mullova, and Maxim Vengerov, for example, as finally providing plausible alternatives, but Oistrakh’s recordings—at least his earlier ones with Evgeny Mravinsky or Dmitri Mitropoulos—still held sway. Batiashvili, who lived during her first decade under the Soviet regime and studied with Oistrakh’s pupil Mark Lubotsky, makes a claim to inheriting something of Oistrakh’s understanding of the concerto (of course, Leonid Kogan, who also gave insightful early performances, also experienced the conditions that gave Oistrakh his unique voice in the work, but he didn’t quite match the Master). Batiashvili and Esa-Pekka Salonen give an account of the first movement that’s arguably even darker and more dour than Oistrakh’s; they seem to bring the music to a near standstill on occasion, emphasizing its meditative gloom. She’s nearly as caustic as Oistrakh in the Scherzo; and though her articulation isn’t always so sharp as his (she’s no clone), she’s as fluent in the running passages and brings the movement to as rumble-tumble a conclusion. Salonen opens the third-movement passacaglia with an authority that Batiashvili matches in her subsequent entrance, which combines declamation with insinuating nuance (she plays the 1709 Engleman Stradivari). Toward the end of the movement, the engineers have sharply defined the theme’s pizzicato last statement. Oistrakh would begin the cadenza with deadpan seriousness and gradually grow animated—without, however, ever growing correspondingly warmer. Batiashvili sounds a bit moister (listeners may be surprised by the amount of reverberation if they go directly to the cadenza without listening to the preceding movements) in the passages after the very opening, but her reading resembles his—still without sounding like a copy, or worse, a pastiche. At times, she’s more leisurely in passages that Oistrakh dispatched in a seeming perfunctory rush, although nothing about his playing ever seemed really perfunctory in this work. And she rises to a dryly kinetic conclusion similar to his. Supposedly, Shostakovich had originally intended the violin to lead into the finale, but Oistrakh begged for a merciful respite after the gigantic cadenza. Some otherwise high-powered performances, such as those by Oistrakh, actually (perhaps as a result) make the orchestral statement of the Burlesque’s theme sound anticlimactic. Salonen and the orchestra (and the engineers, in collaboration) seem to have rectified this deficiency, and both soloist and orchestra maintain the finale’s momentum to the end. Altogether, their version of the concerto seems competitive with any, including Oistrakh’s, and the recorded sound, from the Munich Herkulessaal in May 2010, should give them a strong edge for those who insist on up-to-date digital fidelity.
Giya Kancheli’s V & V for violin and taped voice with string orchestra provides a change of atmosphere, drawing many of the poisons that might remain from Shostakovich’s concerto. Here too, as in the first movement of Shostakovich’s concerto, time seems to stand still, but in a more serene and less menacing way. Batiashvili’s father, Tamas, arranged Shostakovich’s Lyrical Waltz, a genial confection from Seven Dolls’ Dances, for violin and string orchestra. In her reading, the violinist demonstrates an almost Kreislerian combination of rhythmic incisiveness, flexibility, and ardor.
In the last two numbers on the program, Batiashvili collaborates with lycophile pianist Hélène Grimaud. The first of these, Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt, presents an opportunity, somewhat like that offered in Kancheli’s work, to limn a static expressivity of great sensitivity, requiring exceptional tonal control. The instrumentalists collaborate in creating a timelessness that isn’t the result of lethargy, focusing their attention and the listener’s on each individual moment. Batiashvili displays an even greater tonal pliability, in addition to heartfelt throbbing, in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s popular Vocalise, which serves as a kind of encore.
Altogether a captivating label debut, Batiashvili’s and her partners’ performances provide more than an hour of riveting listening. Strongly recommended.
Concerto for Violin no 1 in A minor, Op. 77by Dmitri Shostakovich Performer:
Lisa Batiashvili (Violin)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: USSR
V & Vby Giya Kancheli Performer:
Lisa Batiashvili (Violin)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1994
TOO QUIETJanuary 31, 2014By John B. (Edina, MN)See All My Reviews"While the CD is an interesting and pleasing assortment,the volume, as compared with most other CDs, is very low"Report Abuse
A fascinating programFebruary 15, 2013By See All My Reviews"I bought this CD because it contained Arvo Part's Spiegel im spiegel, a work I am unable to disassociate from the moving film Wit staring Emma Thompson; here the music dramatizes the quiet and slow movement of time in a patient dying from cancer. It's almost too painful to listen to if one knows the film. On this CD the masterful collaboration between Batiashvili and Helene Grimaud makes this CD worth buying. The major piece on this CD, however, is the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1. Her reading of this work is energetic and convincing, but it's a pity her fine playing is so overshadowed by the loudness of the orchestra. The haunting final note of the first movement, for example, is completely drowned out by the orchestra. It is because of this imbalance between orchestra and performer that I only award four stars. Where was the recording engineer?"Report Abuse