BRAHMS Violin Concerto; C SCHUMANN 3 Romances
Even before Lisa Batiashvili makes her entrance, we can sense this will be an outstanding performance of the Brahms. Finely balanced, spacious recording, with woodwind and horns well placed, highlights the fine orchestral playing – solo lines projected but with the whole beautifully blended. And Christian Thielemann, in the first movement, maintains the momentum of a true Allegro while giving the lyrical lines room to expand.
Lisa Batiashvili, too, finds a wholly convincing equilibrium between her bold, passionate entry and the more reflective music that follows. Her view of the work is freer in terms of rhythm and tempo than Ginette Neveu’s on her wonderful, sinewy 1946 recording but her close, detailed involvement with the music is equally striking. Like Isabelle Faust, she opts for the cadenza by Busoni, with its accompaniment of timpani rolls and shadowy string arpeggios – a welcome alternative to the familiar Joachim cadenza. After this, the Adagio and finale don’t disappoint. Compared with Baiba Skride’s beautiful account of the Adagio, Batiashvili’s expressive inflections appear more closely tied to the music’s ebb and flow, and so more strongly affecting. In the finale, Batiashvili and Thielemann maintain a springy, joyful rhythmic impetus throughout. Other accounts, Maxim Vengerov’s, for instance, may be more overtly brilliant but Batiashvili is forceful whenever she needs to be, while proving adept in finding moments of delicacy and playfulness.
Batiashvili and Alice Sara Ott are splendid advocates for the Clara Schumann Romances, bringing out all the changes in mood and character of these highly accomplished pieces, dedicated, like the Concerto, to Joseph Joachim.