Berlin Philharmonic calls in star soloist as concertmaster

Berlin Philharmonic calls in star soloist as concertmaster


norman lebrecht

March 13, 2022

None of the soloists in last night’s Verdi’s Requiem were the ones advertised. Two by two, they dropped out with illness or other causes.

Daniel Barenboim was there to conduct and the orchestra and Rundfunk chorus were at full blazing strength. The final soloist lineup was Susanne Bernhard, Marina Prudenskaja, Michael Spyres and Tareq Nazmi.

But who was that leading the violins? Spectators rubbed their eyes in wonder and reached for their phones.

It was none other than Lisa Batiashvili, one of the most sought after soloists on the concerto circuit.

Unannounced, she is discreetly deputizing as concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic all week.

Lisa, who is Georgian, is an outspoken opponent of Putin’s wars. 


  • Andy says:

    Fantastic. She’s a wonderful violinist. Sounds like a great night.

  • Pedro says:

    And the other lady at the first stand was Madeleine Carozzo, as far as I know the first woman accepted by the BPO in the 1980’s after they refused Sabine Meyer, who was Karajan’s choice.

  • Save the MET says:

    Brava!!!! What a terrific idea!!!!

  • Bone says:

    That’s pretty cool of Lisa to do. Must’ve been fun for the violins to be able to work with her.

  • Fernandel says:

    Flashy initiative that cannot conceal the Berlin Philharmonic’s downward path.

    • anon says:

      When every single one of their frequent collaborators (including their current chief conductor) did/is doing their best work elsewhere in the last two decades, the blame lies squarely on the orchestra itself.

      • Drew Barnard says:

        What are you talking about? I’ve listened to almost all of Petrenko’s performances—I keep up with most of the DCH performances—and have been consistently impressed. The orchestra sounds quite a bit different than it did under Rattle, and I think it’s in their favor. There’s a new athleticism, an extremely tight string sound, and a sense of the orchestra moving in the same direction that you didn’t hear under Rattle.

        How much have you listened to the orchestra lately? And what orchestras do you find more impressive?

        • anon says:

          I didn’t say they played worse under Petrenko than they did under Rattle. I said their performances are not as good as some other orchestras’ *under the same conductors*. Petrenko’s performances were better when he was conducting operas at Bayerische Staatsoper. Rattle did his best work with CBSO. I also recently came across a recording of Bruckner’s ninth with Rattle conducting LA Phil. If you compared that recording with Rattle’s commercial release with Berlin Philharmonic of the same work, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that it’s not Rattle that’s mediocre in this repertoire.

          • Bruce Zeisel says:

            You can’t compare recorded performances with live. The recording engineer and the recording director will influence the apparent performance.

          • Drew Barnard says:

            I took it for granted that in the COVID era listeners wouldn’t be expected to be basing all judgements off of live performances. But I have also heard the Berlin Phil live multiple times in recent years, along with orchestras such as Vienna, Chicago, Boston, Philly, Concertgebouw, Bavarian Radio, and the impression of highest quality for the Berlin Phil was even more indelible.

          • Drew Barnard says:

            Interesting perspective. I must say, I think the idea that Rattle is a good Bruckner conductor but the Berlin Phil isn’t a good Bruckner orchestra would be a pretty hard sell with most Bruckner connoisseurs.

    • MacroV says:

      Yes, they are in such dire shape…

    • marcus says:

      Wouldn’t we all like to be on the skids like them….

    • sonicsinfonia says:

      As it was unannounced, it was hardly flashy. Have you actually listened to the Philharmoniker’s playing recently?

    • Tamino says:

      Well, the whole of humanity is on a downward path, why pointing out the Berliner Philharmoniker?
      Only weapon manufacturer‘s stocks are on an upward trajectory. And fuel prices of course.

    • Kyle Wiedmeyer says:

      They’ll be fine.

  • Yuriy Geyer says:

    Why is it a pertinent piece of information to include Lisa’s opinion of the Russian regime?

    • Marvolos says:

      Because ALL Putin’s supporters must be cancelled! Silence is a complice to the genocide in Ukraine! Not so hard to understand or is it!

  • Howard says:

    Everything was fine except we got another ho-hum reading from Barenboim. Again, just as in Vienna on Jan. 1, he looked as though he’d rather be anywhere else. No engagement whatsoever! Is the man ill?

  • G.G says:

    She announced it in her social media since the beguining of the last week, while been an active anti-putin war, since the very beguin.

  • Paul Wells says:

    Congratulations on the expanding photos.

  • MacroV says:

    Cool. I wonder if there was some symbolism behind it, but in any case she’s a friend of the orchestra and probably of Barenboim. They haven’t replaced Daniel Stabrawa yet so I imagine it would have been his time in the CM rotation. Presumably Christian Polonek could have CM-ed the evening, but a nice little bit of celebrity casting.

  • Axl says:

    It look’s that she’s like a fish in the water! And because Stabrawa’s position is open so she would be a dream come true successor for him… 😉