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Violin Concertos - Released May 6, 2014 | PentaTone

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With several of her recordings of Romantic and modern violin concertos already issued on the PentaTone label, Arabella Steinbacher releases her first Classical-era album with this hybrid SACD of Mozart's Violin Concertos No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5. One may presume that she will eventually round out the series with the first two violin concertos and the Sinfonia concertante, but it's still a fine program for connoisseurs of Mozart and aficionados of Steinbacher's exquisite playing. Performing with Daniel Dodds and the Festival Strings Lucerne, she delivers all three works with bright sonorities and fluid grace, and plays with an elegance that is quite attractive. Even so, she reserves her virtuosity for the cadenzas (Wolfgang Schneiderhan's in the Violin Concerto No. 3, and Joseph Joachim's in the last two concertos), and the brilliance and warmth of her sound is well matched by the rounded tone of the orchestra, which in spite of its name includes woodwinds and horns. While the ensemble isn't a period orchestra, and Steinbacher makes no attempt to play in the historically informed manner, that's just as well, considering that the later vintage of the cadenzas would clash stylistically, and that this group of musicians obviously knew what they'd feel comfortable playing. In the end, it comes down to taste, and these are quite tasteful performances, so putting the historical debate aside, they are an enjoyable change of fare for this artist. © TiVo
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Violin Concertos - Released August 24, 2010 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
Though he was not himself a violinist, Béla Bartók managed to compose two incredible violin concertos, the second of which is considered by some to be the most important violin concerto of the 20th century. The first concerto was written for the unrequited love of his youth, violinist Stefi Geyer, who never performed the work publicly and kept hold of the manuscript until her death in 1956. The two-movement work is filled with references to Bartók's relationship with her; the first movement luxuriously romantic and the second a pyrotechnic display of sheer virtuosity. The Second Concerto came about nearly two decades later from a commission. Though the work is in a Classical three-movement format, the inner workings are a mesmerizing series of motivic variations entirely of Bartók's design. Performing on this PentaTone Classics album are violinist Arabella Steinbacher and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Marek Janowski. Steinbacher continues in her recent trend of producing exemplary recordings and joining forces with equally refined orchestras. Both concertos are executed with virtually flawless technical accuracy: polished intonation, precise rhythm and articulation, and a right arm that equally creates long, flowing lines and aggressive, forceful accents. Steinbacher's connection with the score is clear as she guides listeners through the emotions of the First Concerto and the ingenious variations of the Second. Janowski leads his orchestra in a sensitive yet robust accompaniment, and PentaTone's sound is rich, full, and clear. © TiVo
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Duets - Released April 5, 2011 | PentaTone

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This album features two major artists, past and present: Johannes Brahms and Arabella Steinbacher. However, even the best of artists have their less than perfect moments or works. These three sonatas, as played hereby Steinbacher and Kulek, come across as less exciting, lesser works by Brahms. The Sonata No. 1 sounds rather anemic as it begins (partly because of the recording quality), but Steinbacher chooses to play without much fullness or vibrato, even though she is playing a Stradivarius. The music comes to a grand crescendo, but it simply does not feel robust enough for Brahms. The piano tends to overpower Steinbacher in the first movement. The second movement improves, for Steinbacher even plays into the string with some fire, contrasting that with a very quiet piano passage, but still there is not enough vibrato. The sonata concludes with a very fluid, sweet tone, but the lack of passion does not fully entice the listener. In Sonata No. 2, again, there is generally a lack of vibrato and vigor. The Allegro first movement generally does not sound like an allegro, though it picks up and becomes livelier through the piece. Same for the Vivace section of the second movement: it only becomes a bit vivace. The dialogue between the piano and violin in the final movement is interesting to listen to, and it ends grandly. One must be careful to note that Steinbacher always plays with very good technique, as does her pianist; it is simply her musical decisions that are not always engaging. Sonata No. 3 is a better work by Brahms, for it is a four-movement sonata that makes more use of the piano, which is active under the violin. Steinbacher comes alive, and it's a wonder why she didn't play with this energy on the other pieces. The Un poco presto e con sentiment shows off a grand Brahms, and Steinbacher sings out, but also contrasts it with tenderness. This sonata concludes with a Presto agitato, which is agitated indeed, for the beginning is simply incredible. The final work on the album is a Scherzo from Brahms' FAE Sonata, which is the most exciting piece on the album to hear. Steinbacher sounds like an entirely different violinist here, with such power and passion; her high notes sing and her technique is excellent. Clearly, this violinist is capable of so much musically that it is disappointing when one hears her playing at less than her full potential. One can only hope that she will be more artistically consistent with her energy in future recordings. © TiVo
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Violin Concertos - Released March 26, 2013 | PentaTone

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Violin Concertos - Released January 1, 2009 | PentaTone

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Despite the relatively short time since the dawn of her international career, which began in 2004, violinist Arabella Steinbacher is already leaving a significant mark on the concert stages and recording studios of the world by this 2009 recording. She is rapidly proving herself to be an extremely mature, well-developed artist capable of handling the most musically sophisticated compositions in her repertoire. Such is certainly the case with the present performance of Karol Szymanowski's intense, gripping First Concerto. Few violinists tackle this marvelous concerto, but Steinbacher approaches it with every bit as much reverence as is typically given to concertos of Shostakovich or Bartók. What's more, her clear understanding of and unity with the score capture the attention of listeners from the first bar to the last. Her phenomenal technique allows her to focus on maintaining lines, coloring each note, and making sense of Szymanowski's melodic language. The PentaTone album continues with an equally engaging performance of the Dvorák Violin Concerto. Although this concerto is performed with great frequency, Steinbacher's interpretation is energetic and driven, robust without being overly sentimental, and powerful without being forced. Marek Janowski leads the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin in masterful, restrained accompaniments and rich, enthusiastic tuttis. PentaTone's sound, particularly for those listening in 5.1-channel surround sound, is warm, present, and clear. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 20, 2017 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
There are few clearer demonstrations of the high level of technical ability among violinists today than the profusion of good recordings of Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto, Op. 15, which Jascha Heifetz said was unplayable, but which is confidently taken on here by Arabella Steinbacher, accompanied by the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin under Vladimir Jurowski. It is indeed a fearsome virtuoso essay, one of the few Britten wrote. One factor recommending this version over others is the pairing with Paul Hindemith's Violin Concerto, not a work commonly heard in the 21st century. It makes sense here: both concertos were composed in 1939, and the Britten has the flavor of a work prepared for the extroverted American market. The Hindemith has, perhaps, a different, more melancholy flavor of exile. Sample Steinbacher's performance in the slashing second movement of the Britten, where her perfect control does suggest Heifetz. The two concertos also both refer to Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, both in their timpani strokes and in a more general relationship of soloist to orchestra; Jurowski's accompaniment is unusually sensitive and well-integrated with Steinbacher's lines. Pentatone's studio sound, rather eerily clear, is another major attraction. © TiVo
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Concertos - Released September 4, 2012 | PentaTone

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Duets - Released September 2, 2014 | PentaTone

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Concertos - Released September 2, 2016 | PentaTone

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Until the 2016 release of this album on Pentatone, violinist Arabella Steinbacher had mostly explored heavy repertory of the 19th and 20th centuries on recordings of Strauss, Franck, Shostakovich. She shifts gears with this collection of virtuoso favorites that might easily have appeared on a concert program of a century ago, or nearly that long. It's not a program of encores, which is more common today. The works on this program are substantial and, with the exception of Massenet's famous Méditation, between nine and 15 minutes in length. The novelty here is the opening Carmen Fantasie by Franz Waxman, written for Jascha Heifetz and edited by that great violinist. Despite her disclaimer, Steinbacher takes after Heifetz stylistically with her soaring, Apollonian tone, and this work fits her well. Another highlight is an unusually light, agile performance of Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending, rather quick, but always seeming under control and not rushed. Steinbacher has plenty of competition here and elsewhere, but in the main, her performances have the refined quality that her classic models achieved, even in broadly popular repertory. She picks her material well, avoiding her polar opposite, Fritz Kreisler. Pentatone's spacious sound, recorded in an unspecified location, delivers on its audiophile claims, and Steinbacher's Booth Stradivarius sounds great. A recommended look back at the age of the star violin virtuoso. © TiVo
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Violin Concertos - Released June 2, 2015 | PentaTone

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Classical - Released October 5, 2018 | PentaTone

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Classical - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

Violinist Arabella Steinbacher and pianist Peter von Wienhardt unite here on Violino Latino for truly a spectacular performance. Steinbacher's playing is, in a word, sexy. Though of German descent, her playing is filled with all of the hot-blooded passion, rhythmic vitality, and take-no-prisoners risk taking necessary to make these works truly memorable. Heard here on a new instrument (or rather, a much older instrument -- the 1736 "Muntz" Stradivarius) than what was on her previous recordings, the sound she achieves is quite memorable. She moves easily from the tender, suave music of Ponce's Estrellita to the aggressive, almost brutal playing in Piazzolla's Adios nonino and everything in between. Her exceptional musicianship and interpretive skills are paralleled by her dazzling technique and mastery of her instrument. The violin is clearly the star in these works, and von Wienhardt's accompaniment sensitively reflects that hierarchy. The sound quality of the recording is also quite good; everything can be heard clearly, from the occasional satisfying string buzz to the infrequent but guttural ferule clicks. This album is absolutely recommended without reservation. © TiVo
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Duets - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

With the release of each new album, violinist Arabella Steinbacher proves again and again that she not only performs an impressively wide and diverse repertoire, but that she commands different facets of it with incredible precision. This installment features works for violin and piano by French composers Fauré, Poulenc, and Ravel, whose output traverses three generations of wonderfully contrasting music. Steinbacher opens with the rapturous Poulenc sonata, a piece which showcases the amazing amount of controlled power and agility of her right arm. Contrasting completely with its light, effete, graceful qualities is Fauré's A major sonata, in which Steinbacher completely changes character to match the more fluid, hazy aesthetic. The greatest stylistic contrast comes in the Ravel sonata. Here, Steinbacher's tone and pacing give listeners the impression that she grew up listening to nothing more than jazz and blues. The album ends with a bang -- Ravel's Tzigane -- which allows Steinbacher one last opportunity to prove she is not only a master of musicianship, but possesses a fiery, dazzling technique on top of it. Her collaboration with pianist Robert Kulek is nicely unified and pleasingly balanced, a true example of like-minded chamber music at its finest. © TiVo
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Violin Concertos - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

Whoever it was that said that nobody but Oistrakh should ever be allowed to record Shostakovich's violin concertos should be made to listen to this disc by young Japanese-German violinist Arabella Steinbacher. After decades of performances that were more smoke than fire and more shadow than substance, Steinbacher comes out with performances of amazing virtuosity, astonishing energy, and astounding intensity. She never knew the crawling terror of the post-Great Patriotic War USSR, but you can't tell it from her maniacal performance of the First. She never knew the numbing dread of post-heart attack, pre-death Shostakovich, but you can't tell it from her horrifying performance of the Second. Not only is Steinbacher completely on top of the composer's excruciatingly difficult violin writing, she's totally under the skin of his acutely nervous psychology. Although her performance is wholly her own, her interpretation seems entirely Shostakovich's. With the skillful and sympathetic conducting of Andris Nelsons and the passionate and powerful playing of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Steinbacher has created a pair of performances that stand close -- very close -- very, very close -- to Oistrakh's. Orfeo's sound is big and brash but not unpleasantly so. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

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Violin Concertos - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

The Wiener Symphoniker and soloist Arabella Steinbacher indeed do justice to these masterworks by Brahms and Schumann in this live recording. Steinbacher is a violinist quite up to the task of the Brahms Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77, as her entry after the orchestral introduction shows an artist who plays with precision and clarity. Her style is generally light and lyrical, with a sense of delicacy and sensitivity. However, the passionate outburst, as it were, halfway through the first movement is a nice contrast to her smooth, clean lines. Her cadenza at the end of the first movement is also quite passionate and the listener can hear her fire emerge. Yet it is never sloppy, a sure sign that Steinbacher's technique is excellent and solid underneath her artistry. The violin positively sings tenderly and heartbreakingly at the end. While her bowing can run on the thin side, as it seems in the second movement, it is always steady and the lines never break. Steinbacher's interpretation of the third movement produces appropriate tension in the phrases as she plays very much into the string. Her bow attacks are exacting, and her vibrato is active. Fabio Luisi leads the Wiener Symphoniker in wonderful synchronization with the violinist, creating a grand orchestral sound underneath and capturing the essence of Brahms' richness and highly textured orchestration. Schumann's Fourth Symphony, Op. 120, is played with equal musical prowess. The serious, somber beginning that accelerates to a faster tempo is accomplished with perfect unison. The listener hears Schumann's energy and turbulent passion throughout the work, as Luisi brings out the counterpoint. The scherzo is appropriately playful, with its lilting rhythm and vigorous percussion. Yet the movement is lyrical, too, with the strings and upper winds contrasting with the lower voices. The final movement begins undeniably langsam, with the rolling, thundering timpani and swelling brass, then gives way to the lebhaft section that is magnificent and exciting. Luisi and the Wiener Symphoniker truly understand the music and how to convey its dynamics, tempi, and moods in a way that is very inviting to the listener. The only general criticism of this album is that the sound is a bit thin and, at the beginning of the violin concerto, slightly tinny; this may be due to the filtering out of the audience and background noise on this live recording, which perhaps compromises the overall sound. © TiVo
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Pop - Released January 22, 2021 | KNT Label

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Metal - Released June 4, 2012 | Arabella

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Pop - Released August 30, 2019 | Arabella