"You will struggle to find a more impassioned, feisty account of Bach’s solo music for violin. Verbier Festival Gold, the joint label collaboration from the Verbier Festival and DG, treats us to Kristóf Baráti’s Bach recital from the 2016 festival. For a taster of this electrifying performance, head straight to the Allemande from the Partita in B minor – crikey, someone had their spinach for breakfast. Baráti’s bow sears with intent. His sound is taut and vibrant, clenched in an intensity that is a hairline width away from the limits of his 1703 ‘Lady Harmsworth’ Stradivarius. It’s a performance that makes Linus Roth sound practically nostalgic in comparison, Leonidas Kavakos overly academic. And though Baráti’s vacillations into tender evocation, combined with Bach’s dancing dotted rhythms, leave me feeling a tad seasick, I can’t help but be a fan."
"This reading has all the characteristics I love in Barati’s playing. He displays the effortless ease of Heifetz, with the fabulous technique and un-fussy musicianship of Szeryng, along with the richly singing lines of Perlman. He really is an amazing player, and he puts his heart and soul into this Ravel."
"He succeeded in not only finding a glossy Hollywood sheen in his own playing, but from the orchestral strings too… The spacious slow movement was all softness and grace, though again with an intense brightness in the string sound quite different from this section’s usual aesthetic."
"A violinist who commands attention for the music without calling too much attention to himself, Baráti executed it all with remarkable tone, articulation and detailed expression.
Opening with Bach’s Sonata No. 1 for Unaccompanied Violin in G minor, he made the counterpoint flow as if two violins were playing. Octave double-stops in the Adagio came to life as the top note crescendoed while the bottom note faded away gently. Phrases pulsed within the Allegro’s fugue with a spicy flavor, and the final Presto dazzled with its brilliance."
"The violinist compelled attentive listening with some very quiet playing early on, as well as clarity and energy throughout – and absolute command of the demanding first movement cadenza."
"Baráti leaned into the music (both metaphorically and literally), playing with a clean sense of line, even in the cadenzas, and a beautiful sense of flow in the first movement."
"und vor allem nach der leidenschaftlichen Interpretation von Beethovens Kreutzer-Sonate war das Publikum restlos begeistert. Der ungarische Ausnahmegeiger Kristóf Baráti und sein italienischer Klavierpartner Enrico Pace hatten ihre Zuhörer auch mit Werken von Brahms und Janácek geradezu verzaubert. Es war ein großartiges Konzert, darüber waren sich die Besucher einig."
"Vom zarten, kammermusikalischen Einstieg über die lyrischen Linien des Andante sostenuto bis zu den markanten, technisch herausfordernden Passagen des zweiten Satzes, Baráti und das RSO überzeugten in jeder Phase"
"Bela Bartóks 1. Violinkonzert ist kein reißerisches und vielgespieltes Werk, hat jedoch inhaltlichen Tiefgang und weiß durch zarte und subtile Innigkeit zu überzeugen. Kristof Barati brachte den Solopart exzellent zum Erklingen, ideal unterstützt durch das nuancenreich agierende RSO Wien."
"Kristóf Baráti brought easeful technique, honeyed tone and affectionate phrasing to this adorable music; he also passed its test-point with flying colours, namely the cadenza"
"[Baráti] produced sensuous earthy sounds in the lower register and lyrical warmth in more high-lying passages, indulged in the playful moments… delivered a very poised central cadenza and, after the trumpet-led fanfare with which the finale is launched, gave full expression to its sparkling rhythms and melodic lines."
"Baráti’s sound was superb, not too plush, and he seemed to carry over the orchestra with ease… The central panel of the concerto is a cadenza, brilliantly despatched by Baráti, who gave some fabulous pizzicato chords. The folksong-like melody of the finale was give its full due, while Baráti’s high harmonics towards the end were impeccable. Superb."
"[Glazunov] conveyed here with poise by the soloist Kristóf Baráti… as was Tchaikovsky, whose Meditation from Souvenir d’un lieu cher gave Baráti another opportunity to showcase his pristine violin tone."
"Kristóf Baráti played with honeyed tone and impeccable technique"
"The glorious sound from Baráti’s Stradivarius was viscerally penetrating. Every note floated above the orchestra, soft passages piercing through even the busiest of textures, making the listener’s experience effortless, illuminating, and warmly satisfying. Then there was the sheer command and presence of the man. Baráti has the build and physicality of a sportsman, which translated into a performance of immaculate discipline and razor sharp rhythmic precision. It was there in the crackling fireworks of the finale, but equally, it informed the shapeliness and rich poetic expressiveness of the scene-setting opening, and of the enchanting slow movement."
"Kristóf Baráti was the steely, virtuosic soloist in the Violin Concerto, showing his considerable expressive range with encores by Ysaÿe and Bach."
"… an exceedingly fine performance of the Violin Concerto by the Hungarian born violinist Kristóf Baráti. Baráti certainly gets a most beautiful quality of tone from the loaned Stradivarius instrument on which he plays, but it is also a very big, clear sound. His technique is absolutely immaculate. All these qualities served the brisk, rhythmically intricate outer movements of Stravinsky’s four-part concerto admirably, and Gergiev and the orchestra backed Baráti’s bold, assertive delivery to great effect with their crisp, attentive accompaniments. Still more notable was the poetry and eloquence Baráti brought to the solo line in the two inner aria movements. This was playing of the highest quality, deceptively simple, but of extraordinary sensibility."
"Baráti isn’t that well-known in North America yet, but he should be. He is a serious-looking fellow, playing with a poker-faced expression and no physical histrionics, preferring to let his bow do all of the talking. He produced a large Romantic tone on his Stradivarius with no forcing, a good steady command of the lyrical line in the slow movement, and just enough rambunctiousness in the famous “Turkish” passages."
"Es war eine Freude, dem weichen, warmen und tragenden Ton seiner Stradivari, dem unauffälligen Vibrato, der Sicherheit in der äußerst anspruchsvollen Intonation zuzuhören: ein wahrer Klangästhet höchster Güte… Für den fast frenetischen Applaus offerierte er eine Zugabe. Dann erklang – gänzlich unaufgeregt und in makellosem Ton – das Largo aus Bachs dritter Solo-Sonate: der perfekte Ausklang nach Schostakowitschs Meisterwerk!”
“It was a joy to listen to the soft, warm, supporting tone of his Stradivarius, his unobtrusive vibrato, and his surety in the extremely challenging intonation; a true tonal aesthete of the highest order…Enthralling!… The almost frenetic applause was rewarded with an encore – and out rang the Largo from Bach’s third solo sonata: utterly tranquil and with impeccable tone, the perfect finale to follow Shostakovich’s masterpiece!"
"There was plenty of virtuosic excellence… he demonstrated quite remarkable abilities of contrast between the lyrical and the stark pizzicato rhythms… Barati gave us some beautifully sustained sotto voce playing. His opening solo recitative was well structured with just the right degree of expression."
"Baráti played magnificently and gave a deserved encore"
"Kristóf Baráti and Gergiev revealed the music’s evocation and enchantment to compelling effect and enjoyed its angular arguments… they also responded fully to the sultry colours and increasing eroticism of the Finale… Baráti’s rich-toned musicianship was matched by his technical excellence"
"[Baráti] has a pure, even tone, a supple bowing arm and phenomenal left hand pizzicato."
"As soloist in the Violin Concerto No.1, Kristóf Baráti started at the other extreme of audibility, his honeyed tone and intense intimacy willing the orchestra into submission. With his delicate sculpting of phrases and welcome injections of expressive breathing space, Baráti brought a degree of care and fragility that was all too absent from the rest of the programme."
"Baráti draws a full-throttled sound from the 1703 “Lady Harmsworth” Stradivarius, and in the high-ceilinged space of the Verbier Village church, his Bach reverberated impressively… His gutsy playing makes him one to watch."
"Nun zeigt der Ungar, dessen makellose Intonation und Stilsicherheit sich schon an Bach, Paganini, Brahms und Ysaÿe bewährt haben, überragendes Können ausgerechnet dort, wo man am leichtesten scheitern kann. Denn so erfrischend musikantisch und fern aller Nervosität muss man Mozarts Kunst erst einmal zu nehmen wissen.”
“And now the Hungarian, having already proved his impeccable intonation and stylistic command with Bach, Paganini, Brahms and Ysaÿe, demonstrates his outstanding skill exactly where it might be the easiest to fail. He knows exactly how to interpret Mozart’s art in a refreshingly musical way, free of any nervousness."
"Kristóf Baráti performs this mixed bag of violin encores with striking technical facility, innate musicality and fearless panache… with agile bowing and fingerwork, crystal-clear harmonics, pleasing dynamic contrasts and stylish rubato… Baráti phrases Paganini’s Cantabile with disarming charm and ravishing timbre, his intense sound capturing both its passion and repose."
"Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto served as a showcase for Kristóf Baráti, whose dashing, lively phrasing brought a somewhat frilly piece to life. His sheer determinism, dexterity, and steely gaze brought a sense of flair and panache to the evening that was invigorating, almost salubrious even."
"Kristóf Baráti proved to be a quite superlative interpreter, delivering an account which was notable for sustained fast speeds – but not so fast as to obscure the virtuosic writing or lower the Concerto’s unique qualities – and, by so doing, revealing the range of Khachaturian’s teeming invention…. Baráti’s performance was wholly exceptional. For a well-merited encore Baráti offered a reflective movement from a J. S. Bach Partita."
"“For those who like to hear the violin played at its sweet and acrobatic best, then Baráti is out of the top drawer… With intensity of sound, unbridled athleticism and, when needed, searing leaps into the stratosphere that send a tingle down the spine.”"
"Barati’s playing is flawless… For his Carnegie Hall debut, Barati presented a whole program of works for solo violin… The least we can say is that he did not choose the easy way. What he did was brave, humble, different, I would say spectacular… the most beautiful tribute to the violin itself."
"Rather than tossing off [Ysaÿe] as mere appetizers, Baráti probed into them with extraordinary intensity and an almost orchestral range of expression. Virtually motionless, eyes closed to the world, he seemed to immerse himself in the sonatas as much as play them — a self-effacing lack of showmanship that let the music emerge with unexpected power.
Baráti’s reading of Bach […] was nothing less than revelatory… Baráti’s performance was, in a word, masterful. Probing, austere, meditative, it rang with a rare sense of authenticity and almost majestic scope."
"Barati played superlatively right from the opening wonderful Allegro; marvellously singing in the Adagio, and thrilling in the closing Allegro."
"Like so many of the young violin lions of today, he has a blazing technique, but unlike most such players he is able to modify his phrasing to match the mood of the music and bring out much more than a surface reading… the combination of passion and rigorous intellectual structure exhibited by Baráti is irresistible."
"Baráti is something different; he’s of an order of magnitude greater than any player I’ve encountered in at least the last 10 years. Even as I write this, I realize that to dwell on Baráti’s technical perfection—his cleanness of articulation and dead-center intonation, the buttery beauty of tone he draws from his 1703 “Lady Harmsworth” Strad, and his rhythmic accuracy, so precise you could set the earth’s atomic clock by it—is to focus on but the surface of his artistry."
"Barati brought rhythmic bite and character to every bar. His silken tone and songful phrasing spun the Adagio into the most sublime interlude between the gutsy opening Allegro and a Rondo that mixed vigorous bravura with aristocratic understatement. Barati offered a dazzling cadenza in the first movement, dashed off with élan. Clearly an expressive and probing musician, Barati is an artist to watch."
"Spectacular effects prevail, Barati’s double or multiple stopping and jabbed accents constantly injecting a delightfully disturbed intensity into our preconceived notions of Bach’s chordal writing. A magisterial achievement in violin performance and recording, and a clear candidate for any devotee’s Best of the Year List."