Violinist Takako Nishizaki is perhaps the most frequently recorded concert violinist of the digital era. She was also the first violinist to learn by way of the Suzuki method; her father, Shinji Nishizaki, worked with Shinichi Suzuki in developing the method, and Takako Nishizaki took instruction from both teachers. She made her debut at the age of 9, and further studied with Broadus Erle, starting in Japan and later at Yale University. Nishizaki finished her violin studies at Juilliard under Joseph Fuchs and in 1967 won second prize in the Leventritt International competition behind Pinchas Zukerman. One would surmise that with her talent and beauty that American record companies would be getting in each other's way to obtain Nishizaki's recording contract. But they weren't, and by 1974 Nishizaki settled in Hong Kong, where she established a career as the pre-eminent violin virtuoso on the Chinese concert circuit. This was no small feat, as in China they take the violin seriously and its literature is central to the entire establishment of Chinese classical music. Along the way Nishizaki met and married German businessman Klaus Heymann, founder of HNH International, the corporate parent to the popular classical label Naxos. Heymann sponsored Nishizaki in an extensive series of recordings of Chinese classical music on his Marco Polo label. Some of these recordings sold into the millions of copies in China, providing the nest egg that launched the Naxos label in the late 1980s. With Naxos, Nishizaki has recorded much of the standard Western violin literature, as well, but has made a special mission of recording key violin literature that is known in concert and in the classroom, but seldom represented on records. The most celebrated example of this tendency is her recordings of the concertos of Chevalier de St-Georges, but it also includes her interpretations of Charles August de Bériot, Louis Spohr, and Joseph Joachim. All of Nishizaki's recordings are notable for her generous, singing tone; flexible rhythmic sensibility; her sense of architectural symmetry in regard to whole movements; her ability to excite; and the sheer beauty of Nishizaki's sound.
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Concertos - Released October 5, 1995 | Naxos
Classical - Released February 5, 1988 | Naxos
This version of Vivaldi's perennially popular set of four violin concertos features Takako Nishizaki as soloist, accompanied by Cappella Istropolitana, led by Stephen Gunzenhauser. Nishizaki and Gunzenhauser deliver straightforward, impressively virtuosic performances of the concertos. The interpretation and playing tend to be on the traditional side, which may be just what some listeners are looking for, but the performance may seem tame to listeners looking for a version that emphasizes the wild vitality and unpredictable juxtapositions of the music that reflect Vivaldi's reputation as a particularly fiery performer. As a bonus, the album includes the composer's less familiar and very brief Concerto alla rustica. © TiVo