Lisa Batiashvili Announces New Album ‘City Lights’

Lisa Batiashvili’s new album ‘City Lights’, released 5 June, is an autobiographical musical journey and a tribute to Charlie Chaplin.

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Lisa Batiashvili photo
Violinist Lisa Batiashvili. Photo: Deutsche Grammophon/André Josselin

Award-winning violinist Lisa Batiashvili has announced her new album City Lights will be released on 5 June 2020. City Lights is a deeply personal musical journey and a tribute to Charlie Chaplin. The recording takes listeners on a musical journey around the world via eleven carefully chosen pieces that represent the most important cities in Lisa Batiashvili’s life, as well as a suite based on Charlie Chaplin’s own music for City Lights and other films of his. The music ranges from J.S. Bach and Johann Strauss to Michel Legrand and Astor Piazzolla, and all of the tracks are previously unreleased. Lisa Batiashvili’s musical collaborators include fellow Georgian Katie Melua, guitarist MILOŠ, and trumpeter Till Brönner.

Chaplin: The Terry Theme From "Limelight" / La Violetera From "City Lights" / Je cherche après...

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An autobiographical musical journey and a tribute to Charlie Chaplin

The idea for City Lights came out of a conversation between Lisa Batiashvili and her friend, the composer-arranger Nikoloz Rachveli. They are both fans of the music of Charlie Chaplin and last year was the 130th anniversary of the iconic artist’s birth. Lisa Batiashvili said, “Chaplin was very popular in Georgia when I was a child. He was a multi-talent, not only acting and making movies, but writing gorgeous music. For me, he represents the beauty and creative imagination of the 20th century.”

Their idea of creating a suite inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s music and his films grew into an autobiographical concept based on key cities in Batiashvili’s life, each of which has some personal, musical or violinistic connection. Lisa Batiashvili explained, “It doesn’t matter where you go or how far away you end up being, you always have a special connection to places that have become part of you. These are all cities I know not only for their architecture and museums, but inside out. I wanted to express my love for the music, cultures and people of these places and to explore what is special about them, in a positive, specific way.”

Music ranges from J.S. Bach and Johann Strauss to Michel Legrand and Astor Piazzolla

The music on City Lights ranges from J.S. Bach and Johann Strauss to Michel Legrand and Astor Piazzolla. The album brings together diverse genres, including classical, jazz, gypsy, tango and film music. Lisa Batiashvili noted, “We wanted a full range of different pieces that would come together without disturbing each other but would fulfil each other. Each of the tracks was produced with a lot of love and we invested so much energy in each one. Throughout the album there is a symbiosis between different styles.”

The tracks also encompass a broad emotional range, from the good cheer of the Viennese gallop, to the hopes of immigrants to New York with Dvořák’s ‘New World’ Symphony, and the album ends on a darker note, in Tbilisi, Georgia. Lisa Batiashvili explained, “The last few bars of the whole album recall the pain and anxiety of this small country, which has been in conflict most of its history, at the crossroads of bigger powers that always wanted something from us. It’s an endless story that is still relevant today. This is a special statement and when I was playing it, I had to hold myself back from crying, because it’s the story of my people and my country.”

Musical collaborators include Katie Melua, MILOŠ,and Till Brönner

The choice of musical partners was also key. Lisa Batiashvili already knew guitarist MILOŠ and trumpeter Till Brönner but had never worked with them, and she had never met fellow Georgian Katie Melua.

Melua: No Better Magic (LONDON)

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Lisa Batiashvili noted, “It was one of the most complex and interesting creative projects I’ve ever done, but also incredibly satisfying, because we knew that with each step, we were creating something entirely new. None of the music has been recorded before and most of it hasn’t been performed.”

Lisa Batiashvili’s new album City Lights can be bought here.

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