New Classical Tracks: New generation violinist

by Julie Amacher, Minnesota Public Radio
August 4, 2009
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St. Paul, Minn. — In fresh, alluring performances, a young violinist presents a familiar concerto and music of her own country, the Republic of Georgia.

In 2001, BBC named Lisa Batiashvili one of its "New Generation Artists." That same year, the BBC Music Magazine honored her as the "Outstanding Debut of the Year" at the BBC Proms.

After hearing her performance in 2001, pianist Alfred Brendel wrote this in a review, "Every note both sang and spoke... proving once more that great violinists reveal themselves at an early age."

On her second recording, Lisa Batiashvili not only reveals her talent as a violinist, but she also makes her debut as a conductor with the German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen and the Georgian Chamber Orchestra.

By sharing music from two different countries on this new release, Batiashivili brings together two different cultures, both of which have had a profound effect on her life.

The centerpiece of this new recording is Beethoven's only violin concerto. After performing this work for years, Batiashvili still has plenty of fresh ideas.

The first movement is robust and percussive, punctuated by dramatic dynamic contrasts. When her silvery solo line finally enters, she captivates the listener with her sweet tone and poetic phrasing.

I especially enjoy the lighthearted musical conversation between the orchestra and soloist in the final rondo. Its dancing rhythm and memorable melody are interpreted with delightful charm by Batiashvili and the German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen.

Batiashvili lived in Georgia until she was 12. She grew up listening to works like the set of miniatures by one of Georgia's most celebrated composers, Sulkhan Tsintsadze. She often heard Tsintsadze's miniatures in their original version for string quartet, with her father as second violin in the Georgian String Quartet.

For this recording, she asked her father to arrange six of these 15 miniatures for violin and strings. Each miniature is based on Georgian folksongs, and reflects the harmonic colors and sounds of instruments native to the Georgian region.

The first movement is a high-energy, percussive dance from the Caucasian mountains. The mood totally shifts in the melancholy second movement, titled "Suliko." This popular love song is illuminated by Batiashvili's delicate violin solo.

At the center of the fifth movement, titled "Tzin Tzkaro," is one of the most famous national songs from West Georgia. Batiashvili opens this movement with a mournful solo. The orchestra's looming accompaniment creates a beautiful ethereal atmosphere.

This set of miniatures wraps up with an impressive fight dance between two men. Chromatic textures first capture the ear of the listener, and then it's a fight to the finish with driving rhythms and added inflections from the solo violin.

Lisa Batiashvili opens her new recording with the Tsintsadze "Miniatures," because she's hoping these pieces, which deeply resonate within her, will do the same for us.

Once our senses are immersed in Tsintsadze's sound world, she believes we'll hear Beethoven's violin masterpiece with refreshed ears, allowing us to be transported into another very different world. I for one have really enjoyed this musical ride. I encourage you climb aboard and experience it, too.

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BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto; SULKHAN TSINTSADZE: Six Miniatures -- Lisa Batiashvili, violin/ German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen/ Georgian Chamber Orchestra -- Sony/BMG 88697334002

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