Friday, 26 October 2012

Isakadze, and Faust

Off hand, I can only think of two Georgian violinists -- though there must be scores of excellent ones: Lisa Batiashvili, and Liana Isakadze. I've always had a very high opinion of Batiashvili, and have been a faithful fan of Liana Isakadze, having met her playing via her recording of Otar Taktakishvili's second violin concerto (a work I greatly like, but which remains obstinately completely unknown to practically everyone else). On a CD kindly supplied by Ronald, she plays the Beethoven violin concerto (recorded round about 1980), plus two concertos by Vivaldi (with the Georgian Chamber Orchestra) and the usual Polonaise by Ferdinand Laub. There is a freshness about Isakadze's playing that I find most attractive. In the Vivaldi concertos, there is none of that nonsense about no vibrato, and the long-held notes in the slow movements in particular sound so much better; long held notes on a violin with no vibrato can grate on the nerves, which is presumably why so many "authentic" fanatics indulge in ugly bulges. She plays the Beethoven reasonably "straight" and I like the performance. The Beethoven violin concerto is usually OK unless tempi are extreme (either much too slow, or much too fast) and unless some ridiculous cadenzas are imported for the sake of novelty. Isakadze sticks to the Kreisler cadenzas, and her tempi are perfectly acceptable. Well over an hour of attractive and spirited violin playing.

Isabelle Faust stands in a long line of celebrated Austro-German violinists that includes Carl Flesch, Georg Kulenkampff, Erich Röhn, Adolf Busch, Gerhard Taschner, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Thomas Zehetmair, Arabella Steinbacher, Julia Fischer .. and many others. On 19th October 2012 she gave a recital of unaccompanied Bach at a place identified by the BBC as simply “St. Luke's Church”, wherever that may be. She played the first and third sonatas, and the third partita. I enjoyed all three very much indeed. Her playing is in the German classical tradition. She is not an artist who seeks to show off her technique or lovely sound. In addition, she is technically on top of everything. This is Bach one sits back and enjoys.

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