Preview: Lisa Batiashvili, Wigmore Hall, London

If it's good enough for Brendel...
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The Independent Culture

When Alfred Brendel first heard the 22-year-old Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili, he uttered words that any young musician would die for: "Every note both sang and spoke... proving once more that great violinists reveal themselves at an early age." Four years on, Batiashvili still treasures those words, and regularly justifies them: her sound is warm and full, over rock-firm intonation; she's perfectly at home with Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, but she also heads into uncharted waters.

Her programme at the Wigmore on Monday is typical: one of Beethoven's lesser-known sonatas, a Schumann sonata and, sandwiched between them, a rarely performed work by Gyorgy Kurtag - Tre Pezzi, Op 14e. Indeed, she's never heard it played. "I chose it out of curiosity - I want to see what it's like, and on Monday I will see," she says. "I suspect it's going to sound very beautiful."

Her beginnings were pretty standard for Georgia: her violinist father gave her a fiddle for her fourth birthday and taught her resolutely for the next eight years; her pianist mother accompanied her. Then she auditioned for the Hamburg Musikhochschüle, and got a scholarship to study alongside 18- and 20-year-olds. "Musical life in Tbilisi was intense, but we had to leave Georgia at that point - it was getting dangerous. With civil war about to start, the tension was extreme; and my father wanted me to benefit from the first-rate musical education available in Germany."

Since her father - who trained at the Tbilisi Conservatoire - was her biggest influence, is she imbued with the Russian style? "I don't know what that is any more. Anyway, Russian art and Georgian art are very different. Culturally, they have nothing in common - it was just the Soviet Union that brought them together. The Georgian way of making music is more direct and risky, and sometimes more wild."

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