The Strad Issue: January 2008
Musicians: Lisa Batiashvili (violin/director) Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Georgian Chamber Orchestra*
Composer: Beethoven, Sulkhan Tsinrsadze

Many will find the composer coupling on this disc somewhat puzzling, but it is evidently the outcome of Lisa Batiashvili’s desire to bring together the cultures of Germany and her native Georgia.

The style of Sulkhan Tsintsadze (1925-91) comprises a synthesis of Georgian folk music and the idioms of composers such as Bartók, Shostakovich and Shebalin. Arranged for violin and orchestra from their original quartet versions by Lisa’s father, Tamas, these six miniatures range in mood from the dark, contemplative Tzin Tzkaro to the sad love song Suliko, the largely skittish Lale, and the bravura and vivacious rhythms of Mzkemsuri and Satshidao, both based on traditional dances. Batiashvili has the life-blood of this music in her veins and conveys its very essence with passion and zeal, fully justifying its inclusion, if only as an appetiser or palate cleanser, for the very different Beethovenian experience to come.

She gives an authoritative, expansive, yet flowing account of the concerto, marrying depth of insight with total technical command. She plays throughout with a deliciously unaffected lyricism and takes full advantage of the rich sonority of her 1709 ‘Engleman’ Stradivari. She shapes the melismatic passages of the first movement with flair and spontaneity, while at the same time blending into the orchestral textures, and she captures the serenity and poise of the Larghetto with consummate artistry. The finale is nicely buoyant and Kreisler’s cadenzas are dispatched with intelligence and flair. The recording is full and bright, with the violin well forward but the orchestral tapestry richly in evidence.