Violinist Lisa Batiashvili explores some of the most romantic music ever written on her new album Secret Love Letters released 19 August 2022. The recording features evocative music inspired by late-Romantic literature and great virtuosos of the past including Karol Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto, Ernest Chausson’s Poème, César Franck’s Sonata in A major and Claude Debussy’s Beau Soir. Lisa Batiashvili is joined by The Philadelphia Orchestra and its Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin as well as young Georgian pianist Giorgi Gigashvili. “Music, just like art and literature, has always been the most amazing vehicle for artists to share secret messages and speak about their hidden loves and untold stories,” explained Lisa Batiashvili.
“Music starts where words stop”
“What would human life be like without this range of emotions and feelings which we feel cannot be shared with anyone?” asked Lisa Batiashvili. “There are so many hidden messages in music, things that cannot be put into words,” she noted. “Something very obvious unites the four pieces I’ve chosen for the album, by Chausson, Debussy, Franck and Szymanowski. It’s the message of love that is there in the music, in many different facets and colours, and so much of that message is secret and intimate.” Yannick Nézet-Séguin added, “One of my favourite quotes in life is that music starts where words stop. What’s so special about music is that it allows us to say things that sometimes we can’t even express to ourselves.”
At the heart of Secret Love Letters is Karol Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto, the Polish composer’s meditation on Tadeusz Miciński’s poem Noc Majowa (‘May Night’), written in Ukraine during the First World War and first performed in Warsaw in November 1922. “It’s a piece full of love and pain deriving from the restrictions experienced by a man who was in love with another man at a time when this was outlawed both legally and morally,” explained Lisa Batiashvili. “It’s a dance between eroticism and compassion, between a dream world and tough reality.” The work was written for Paul Kochanski , who gave the US premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1924 at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, where Lisa’s performance was recorded almost a century later.
Ernest Chausson’s Poème for violin and orchestra, composed in 1896, was based on a short story by the Russian author Ivan Turgenev who was infatuated with the famous mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot. Poème was inspired by and dedicated to the great Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe.
Secret Love Letters also includes Franck’s Sonata in A major for violin and piano, which the composer presented to the violinist Ysaÿe and his bride Louise Bourdeau as a wedding gift, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin accompanies Lisa on Debussy’s Beau Soir, originally a song based on a poem by Paul Bourget, arranged for violin and piano by legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz. Lisa Batiashvili observed, “Debussy was a messenger of the most magical atmosphere, fantasy and purity one can only imagine.”
Lisa Batiashvili will perform works from Secret Love Letters with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra on their forthcoming European tour:
26 August: Edinburgh International Festival, Usher Hall
29 August: Hamburg, Elbphilharmonie
1 September: Berlin, Philharmonie
2 September: Dresden, Kulturpalast
5 September: Lucerne Festival, Kultur- und Kongresszentrum
7 September: Paris, Philharmonie de Paris
9 September: London, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall
Lisa Batiashvili’s new album Secret Love Letters will be released on 19 August 2022 and can be pre-ordered here.