Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major, Op 35; Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op 47

Reviewed on Tue 10 Jan, 2017

There’s no swagger or indulgent sentimentality here, just heartfelt, emotionally intelligent music making that gets to the dark heart of both pieces.

The catalogue isn’t short of recordings of the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius violin concertos, but these gripping performances can take their place securely alongside the very best. As well they might, given the assembled talent. Technically assured, interpretatively incisive, Lisa Batiashvili demonstrates again, in a ravishing Tchaikovsky and heart-stopping Sibelius, why she is one of the very finest violinists of the day. Her partnership with Daniel Barenboim – who conducts with painterly precision – and the Staatskapelle Berlin is top-notch, the German band playing with utmost conviction, finely characterised detailing and the surest sense of tone. There’s no swagger or indulgent sentimentality here, just heartfelt, emotionally intelligent music making that gets to the dark heart of both pieces. Above all, these are intensely musical performances – the Tchaikovsky teeming with becoming drama and often sublime poetry, the Sibelius shot through with spellbinding interior mystery. A modern classic that serves up an intense, involving, rewarding and altogether satisfying experience.
–Michael Quinn