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Posted October 1, 2010
Jean Sibelius' Violin Concerto has been recorded dozens of times and there are many good recordings of it but none that match the careful balance between extroverted Romantic expressiveness and tasteful violin tone that Lisa Batiashvili brings to this work on this recording. This is a live performance which, thankfully, retains the applause at the end, and boy was it deserved! Batiashvili is unbelievably virtuosic, as the thrilling beginning of the third movement testifies. Her violin tone is always pleasant to the ears, never harsh or grating. Many classic performances of this work succeed in being boldly Romantic but the violinist does not maintain a consistently pleasant tone (e.g. Isaac Stern). Hilary Hahn's recent account has a very beautiful violin sound, but it unfortunately does not present the work as the grand Late Romantic warhorse that it is, instead presenting it as a small-scale Classical concerto. Batiashvili succeeds on all levels in this performance. It comes with the world premiere recording of Magnus Lindberg's Violin Concerto, written specifically for Batiashvili, and it is a very successful modernist violin concerto, alternatively craggy and brooding and, at times, quite thrilling. Batiashvili's sweet tone carries the work, for in lesser hands, this work could come off quite scratchy-sounding. Not so here. The sound quality is excellent for both works. Highly recommended.
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