Violinist Lisa Batiashvili, already known in concert halls around the world and acclaimed for her "dazzling virtuosity" (Financial Times), makes her much-anticipated Deutsche Grammophon debut with this startling program featuring classics by Shostakovich and Rachmaninov as well as works by Kancheli and Pärt. The album will be released on February 15, 2011 in anticipation of her performances in Philadelphia, Minneapolis and New York.
The centerpiece of this album is Batiashvili's performance of Shostakovich's Violin Concerto no. 1 in a minor with Esa-Pekka Salonen leading the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. The sound of Shostakovich belongs to Lisa Batiashvili's earliest memories and during her childhood, she often heard her father's string quartet rehearse Shostakovich's music. Though Lisa and her family left Georgia when she was 11, her violin teacher in Hamburg, Mark Lubotsky, was a student of David Oistrakh, for whom Shostakovich wrote his violin concertos, and to the young Lisa Batiashvili this felt like a direct line to the source. "Somehow the piece became symbolic of the time in the Soviet Union, which I had also experienced myself during the first ten years of my life. Musicians during Soviet times were also looking for the freedom that Shostakovich sought through his music. Music was an escape and a symbol of freedom at a time when it was so difficult to function in an incredibly brutal system." This work forms the core of a collection of pieces which all cast light on Soviet Russia.
Batiashvili's native Georgia is represented with Giya Kancheli's haunting V & V, a small taste of a sound world which is markedly different from, yet somehow connected to, that of its massive northern neighbor. "Georgian people are actually not at all related to Russians", explains Lisa Batiashvili. "You have the mountains and the sea and great weather for eight months of the year ... Of course, I cannot avoid sounding Georgian when I play. I spent my childhood there, and when you are in Georgia, you feel something very intense. It's in my genes and in my veins, even if I've spent more than 20 years now in Europe." It is with this personal devotion and pride that Batiashvili champions the music of her compatriot.
This recording not only allowed Batiashvili to work with conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, but also brought about the long-awaited chance to perform with pianist Hélène Grimaud, for Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel and Rachmaninov's Vocalise. While Pärt and Kancheli, like Shostakovich, both felt the weight of Soviet oppression, Rachmaninov's music expresses a nostalgic yearning for his homeland that Lisa Batiashvili feels fits well with the other works on the recording. It balances the sweetness of Shostakovich's Lyrical Waltz, written for the piano and arranged for violin and orchestra by her father, with echoes of another age, she says.
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Lisa Batiashvili lives in France today. In 1995, as the youngest-ever competitor, aged 16, she was awarded second prize at the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki. In 2001, as one of the first BBC "New Generation Artists", she made what BBC Music Magazine hailed as the "outstanding debut of the year" at the BBC Proms. Since then, Lisa Batiashvili has been featured season after season with many of the world's greatest orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia, Berliner Philharmoniker, Gewandhaus, Royal Concertgebouw, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Dresden Staatskapelle and Orchestre de Paris.