Music for unaccompanied violin reminds me of the “challenging” category on the sushi menu. It’s not for everybody. There’s a certain stark nakedness about it.
Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili serves up this challenge on her new recording, “Bach/Lisa Batiashvili.” But she savvily offers it in the middle of a varied menu.
Along with a Bach solo sonata, Batiashvili features miniatures for violin and orchestra, a concerto, and a double concerto with oboe. She even includes a trio sonata by Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel to honor the tricentenary of his birth in 1714.
Batiashvili proves herself an elegant and refined player. And her 1739 Guarnerius violin sings with a pleasantly clear, sweet voice. I’ve often heard a somewhat displeasingly grainy timbre on Guarnerius fiddles.
Batiashvili isn’t afraid to dig in when needed to play the Bach Solo Sonata No. 2. But she always maintains a beautiful tone. There’s no “crunching” over multiple strings.
Belly up to the table for this disc, even if you’re not sure you can stomach unaccompanied violin music. There’s great pickings, whatever your musical taste.