Brutal review for wealthy agent’s wife

Brutal review for wealthy agent’s wife


norman lebrecht

July 25, 2014

We alerted you the other day to a set of Bach suites, the summit of every cellist’s dream, that has been recorded for Warner by Nina Kotova, wife of the fraud-convicted co-owner of IMG Artists, Barrett Wissman.

We refrained for passing detailed comment on the playing, leaving that for specialist reviewers.

The first review has just come in. It’s by Friederike Westerhaus of NDR Kultur (north German public radio).

It’s not pretty. ‘No personality’, reads the sub-head.

Full review here (auf Deutsch). We feel sure someone will find something nicer to say.

nina kotova


  • Harold Braun says:

    German music journalists don´t listen.And they just know very little about music.I´ve stopped reading german reviews long ago.Yes,give me Grammophone,BBC Music Magazine,BBC3 radio.and,of course,Slipped Disc anyday!

  • Jonathon Higgins says:

    Was it really necessary to post this??

  • maydjun says:

    The review by Friederike Westerhaus hits the nail on the head. I hadn’t heard of Nina Kotova. The slipped disc story made me curious, as she plays the Strad that previously belonged to Jacqueline du Pre and Lynn Harrell. After seeing the list of her compositions, I would really like to know who is the ghost-composer behind her output. Her audience is really being played for fools.

  • Observer says:

    Do you have anything to add about the way she is dressed?

  • L.F. says:

    It might be true that Mrs. Kotovas recordings of Bach are not satisfying in one or the other respects. But then its difficult to reach the level of a Casals or a Wispelwey.

    But what have the repeated jaundiced remarks about Mrs. Kotovas husband to do in this context? Like any married person she shares luck and mishaps of her partner, but nevertheless she should only be judged on her own merits.

    Sippenhaft (family liability) was a feature of Nazi “jurisdiction” and should be avoided by slipped disc and anybody else.

  • Patricia says:

    Norman, after all the hoopla over Yuja, why not focus on some of the equally silly male participants in the music world? What’s up with that new Deutsche Grammophon signee, Nemanja Radulovic – what is this?

    Or how about Lisiecki blanking on 30-some bars of a Chopin nocturne the other morning at Verbier and stopping to talk in the middle of his Chopin preludes as if it were an afternoon get-together at a retirement community? It’s not only women who are dropping the ball these days. To focus only on their clothing/bad reviews gives a skewed view and is sexist.

  • darling publications says:

    maybe the name Wispelwey should be exchanged for Bylsma???

  • Harold Braun says:

    What the reviewer seemingly doesn´t like is that Mrs.Kotova avoids the scratchy,whiny fashion of so called”period performance”style in favour of a more romantic approach.Reason enough for me to buy the set!

  • Flockenstein says:

    The best Bach by a supermodel you’ll ever buy, I can tell you that!

    • Harold Braun says:

      Dear Flockenstein,you should either clear your ears or go to your doctor.I´ve got perfect pitch,and the intonation is spot on,and her playing is really fiery and full blooded at the same time.Some people just are envious and gleeful to compensate their own shortcomings.It´s not OK,but it´s all too human…

  • Harold Braun says:

    Oh,and I forgot::Sir Antonio Pappano.Lang Lang,Helene Grimaud,Joshua Bell,Andrew Litton and al.must all be idiots to perform with such a bad cellist!
    Gimme a break! Do you take yourself serious,Mr.Flockenstein ,and some other”experts”here?

    • Nick says:

      All those artists just happened to be on Barrett Wissman’s IMG Artists roster or were involved in his Tuscan Sun Festival. Then again, perhaps that was mere coincidence!

      When I travel, as I do extensively, I check out various sites like Tripadviser. It is well known that quite a few of their contributions are written by ‘fake’ reviewers, so I generally filter out the best and worst before checking other sites which only permit reviews from people who have actually booked through their sites. I am equally suspicious of unsolicited reviews an amazon. Take, for example, Ms. Kotova’s 2006 recording of the Dvorak concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Andrew Litton. On the site, there are 5 glowing 5-star reviews, all short with little real information other than superlatives. What about the reviewers? Well, all have made just that one review. And surprise! surprise! All were made on precisely the same day – 26 April 2006. Now convince me that is pure coincidence!

  • Harold Braun says:

    Be it as it may,I listened to the Dvoral Concerto recording with Litton and the Philharmonia,and it is great and certainly ranks among the best.That´s what counts,and what fairness demands!We shouldn´t base our judgements on non musical prejudices!

  • Harold Braun says:

    And if you don´t trust me,read Edward Greenfield´s review of the Dvorak disc in Grammophone 7/2006.I doubt he was also involved in the Tuscany festival!Please stop the attention seeking malice and just listen!

  • Pete Simonds says:

    Norman, just to be fair (which we all know you are), I assume you will be posting the
    excellent reviews as well like this one?