VISIONS OF PROKOFIEV. Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major Op. 19. Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 63. Romeo and Juliet: “Dance of the Knights” arr. Tamas Batiashvili. Cinderella: “Grand Waltz” arr. Tamás Batiashvili. The Love for Three Oranges: “Grand March” arr. Tamas Batiashvili. Lisa Batiashvili, violin. Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Yannick Nézet-Séguin. DG 479 8529. Total Time: 59:49.
Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili has rapidly ascended to the highest peaks of her profession, with outstanding recordings of Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concertos with Barenboim (DG 479 6038); Brahms with Thielemann (DG 479 0086) and the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 with Salonen (DG 477 9299). Now comes a superb Prokofiev album with Nézet-Séguin.
Batiashvili and Nézet-Séguin had already collaborated on some recordings of Tchaikovsky songs in arrangements for violin and piano with Nézet-Séguin at the keyboard, and now the fine rapport between the two musicians has clearly carried over to this new Prokofiev CD.
Prokofiev’s Violin Concertos are essential works for violin solo and chamber orchestra, with the composer giving the soloist the most transparent accompaniment imaginable. His orchestration is endlessly fresh and imaginative, even making discreet use of a tuba in the first concerto.
Prokofiev loves to show off the violin’s unique capacity to sing in long flowing lines, never more eloquently than in the second movement of Violin Concerto No. 2. That said, he also evokes the rough qualities of a country fiddler in the last movement of the same concerto. Batiashvili masters each of Prokofiev’s moods in the two concertos with achingly beautiful playing, rich in tone and earthy as required. Nézet-Séguin and the musicians of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe are ideal partners.
The three short encore pieces on the CD are taken from two ballet scores and an opera by Prokofiev and arranged by the soloist’s father for violin and orchestra. Although the Romeo and Juliet excerpt suffers from an accompaniment far too heavy for a solo violin in concert, it works well enough on a recording. The lovely Cinderella waltz is far more successful.