An eclectic programme, drawn together by stunning musicianship

Lisa Batiashvili: Secret Love Letters


The Strad Issue: September 2022

Description: An eclectic programme, drawn together by stunning musicianship

Musicians: Lisa Batiashvili (violin) Philadelphia Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin (piano) Giorgi Gigashvili (piano)

Works: Music by Franck, Szymanowski, Chausson and Debussy

Catalogue number: DG 4860462

The title of Lisa Batiashvili’s latest release may appear initially to have no connection with Franck’s Violin Sonata (with which she opens), until you recall it was written as a wedding gift for the dedicatee Eugène Ysaÿe. As is often the case with late Romantic violin sonatas, it has a dazzling piano part that goes way beyond the violin’s in terms of technical difficulty and Batiashvili is fortunate to have Giorgi Gigashvili at the keyboard: he ensures that Franck’s subtle rhythmic and harmonic inflections emerge with clarity from the middle register. Theirs is a high-octane reading, with the two players conveying the sensuality of the first and third movements, and revelling in the sonata’s virtuoso exuberance, not least in their thrilling acceleration to the final double-bar.

Again, Batiashvili could hardly wish for more attentive musical partners in Szymanowski’s First Concerto and Chausson’s Poème than the Philadelphians on ravishing form under Yannick Nézet-Séguin (who, as pianist, joins her for Debussy’s Beau soir). If the modern tendency is to exaggerate dynamic range (particularly at the lower end of the spectrum), Batiashvili here sounds temperamentally closer to, say, Rabin, Stern or Perlman, as she soars freely aloft without the slightest hint of inhibition. The DG engineers have captured her in beautifully detailed sound. These may be studio recordings, but they convey a sense of living exultantly in the moment.