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Arabella SteinbacherTruls Mørk is far from being a glamorous superstar, but he is undoubtedly one of the finer cello-wielding musicians as we were able to witness last week. Fazil Say may not have been known to most who went to his concerts with the BSO - but no one who attended these ravishing performances will likely forget his name any time soon. Not even Nikolaj Znaider is a household name on this side of the Atlantic - and he truly is among the elite of current violin players. So it should not be unexpected that you may not have heard of Arabella Steinbacher, either. Ionarts thinks that she, too, will likely leave a lasting impression on you, should you see and hear her in one of the concerts she will give in the region. She just gave her recital debut in the U.S. at the behest of Lorin Maazel at his Chateauville Foundation - and apart from appearances in New York and Philadelphia, she will play at the Zion's church of the City of Baltimore at 5PM on Sunday, October 16th (if you are not seeing the Takács in Bethesda, which has priority status, I suggest that's where you might like to go) and at the Library of Congress in D.C. on Tuesday 18th at 8PM. (If you didn't get tickets for Daphne (ionarts review here), you can console yourself there with the Mozart A major concerto, Mendelssohn, and Brahms.)

Cynical readers might suggest that I have non-musical reasons to be excited about such a violinist's appearance in D.C., or worse: that I recommend her in a fit of local patriotism (she grew up in the same town as I - even if I never knew her then, as we missed each other in grade school by one or two years), I promise that this isn't so. Anne-Sofie Mutter's recommendation may not mean the world at ionarts, nor would we blindly believe German newspapers tripping over one another in praise of her skills... but if she has 'fooled' Valery Gergiev, Colin Davis, and Ricardo Muti (!) into thinking that she's any good, you should be willing to be fooled similarly, too.

Other reviews:

Andrew Lindemann Malone, Arabella Steinbacher's Room-Filling Sound (Washington Post, October 20, 2005)

Steinbacher on ionarts:

jfl, Best Recordings of 2011 (#8) (ionarts, December 12, 2011)

Charles Downey, Arabella Steinbacher with the BSO (ionarts, April 28, 2012)
I feel somewhat vindicated by her evident success, because I went out on a limb when, after hearing her over four years ago in Munich, I suggested that I had heard a violinist with a very, very bright future. I remember the concert as raw, exciting, and with a good share of notes that were not exactly where they were supposed to be - but it had such a biting energy to it, that it was impossible to resist the impact. Diamonds tend not to start out polished... and with the addition of "technical perfection" that critics attest these days, we may safely assume good things to come. If you have heard of Julia Fischer - another German violinist who is very smart about making a slow, well-paced, but inevitably stellar career, you will want to listen to her fellow Ana Chumachenko student - Ms. Steinbacher.

Her discography on Orfeo so far includes the Khachaturian concerto (a good, alas not our favorite, recording of the work) and a brand new release of the Milhaud violin concertos (which we haven't heard yet Ed.: which we have heard now, and admire). Ed. Her discography has grown rapidly, since, and includes Berg / Beethoven (the Berg is as good as it gets; the Beethoven shows Andris Nelsons at his best), highly competitive Shostakovich (BRSO, Nelsons), a surprisingly entertaining Latin program, superbly tasteful and attractively understated Dvořák coupled with Szymanowski (RSO Berlin, Janowski), Bartók Concertos that have found their way into the Best Recordings of 2011 list (O.d.l.Suisse Romande / Janowski), the Brahms Violin Sonatas, and most recently the Prokofiev Concertos, very witty and spunky, with the wonderful Russian NO and Vasily Petrenko.