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on 9 August 2008
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.
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on 20 July 2012
Despite being enormously impressed by her DG recording of Shostakovich Concerto, this live recording of Sibelius' Violin Concerto turned out to be a bit of disappointment. Structural integrity of the whole work is lost, especially in the first and the second movement, due to too much slowing down at odd places. Orchestra parts seem dislocated at crucial moments. Batiashvili's playing is passionate and admirable enough, but overall impression is too rhapsodic, if not so self-indulgent as Anne Sophie Mutter's DG recordiing. This kind of style is more appropriate for Ravel's Tzigane but not for Sibelius.

Magnus Lindberg's Violin Concerto is an amazingly inspired work, possibly one of the most original violin concertos written in modern idiom since Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto. All sorts of technical possibilities are explored throughout the three movements. I never get tired of listening to this deeply expressive performance.
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on 20 October 2012
I am aware that this review will be unpopular as the dissenting voice among so much praise, but I hope it will be of help to those with similar tastes to mine.

Lisa Batiashvili is unquestionably a fine violinist with a rich and beautiful tone and neither her performance of the Sibelius nor the Lindberg Concerti contain an ugly sound. The playing is lyrical, refined and the phrasing is exquisite. Unlike a previous reviewer I found no great problem with the structure of the performance, indeed everything is impeccable.

So, what's the problem? For me it's exactly that: I'm looking for that cool, Nordic quality, something a little more edgy, the grit in the oyster. To my ear this is modern, sanitised musicianship, where beauty of sound is all and probing musicianship is sacrificed at the altar of technical perfection. That is not to say it is without merit, or that Batiashvili does not have something valid to say about this music; only that it did not appeal to this reviewer. Those who agree might try Ida Haendel with Berglund conducting the Bournemouth Symphony or (controversially, I know) Vengerov with Barenboim - a little over-dramatic in places, I accept, but far more interesting than Oramo's rather ordinary accompaniment. I'm even more inclined to go for Perlman, though I'm not usually a fan of his, simply because I hear more emotional depth in his account with the Pittsburgh Orchestra and Previn than I do with Batiashvili and Oramo.

Her reading of the Lindberg Concerto is perhaps more successful; it was composed for her and is a far less gritty piece anyway; and, of course I have no other recording to compare it to. That said, I found Lindberg's Concerto disappointing after works such as Kraft, with its altogether more modernist language, or the more congenial Concertos for Piano and Cello. For me there were too many clichés, too much compromise with the post-Romantic need for harmonic consonance and easy-listening gestures. If you like this performance of the Sibelius, you'll probably like the Lindberg concerto, which may be for some a way into contemporary music that often can seem distant and uninviting.
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on 26 June 2013
If you love Sibelius's violin concerto and want to know which recording you should invest in, then look no further - this is the one! Lisa Batiashvili's recording with the Finnish radio Symphony Orchestra is simply divine! Need I say more?
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on 24 March 2013
A very nice recording although I think the Mullova recording of the Sibelius is better. The Lindberg is very good.
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on 7 November 2009
A smashing Sibelius here... so perfect playing big bold and accurate... super refined sound... what is the world coming to ? Previously unobtainable standard.
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on 21 October 2015
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