Lisa Batiashvili & Nikoloz Rachveli – City Lights (2020)

CDFrontCover1Elisabeth Batiashvili (born 7 March 1979), professionally known as Lisa Batiashvili, is a prominent Georgian violinist active across Europe and the United States.

A former New York Philharmonic artist-in-residence, she is acclaimed for her “natural elegance, silky sound and the meticulous grace of her articulation”.

Batiashvili makes frequent appearances at high-profile international events; she was the violin soloist at the 2018 Nobel Prize concert.

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Batiashvili was born in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, to a violinist father and a pianist mother. She began learning violin with her father from age four. The family left Georgia in 1991 when she was 12 years old, and settled in Germany.[3][4] She later studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg. Mark Lubotsky, her teacher in Hamburg, had been a student of David Oistrakh, for whom Shostakovich wrote his violin concertos.[5][6] Later, Lisa Batiashvili also studied with Ana Chumachenco.

In 1995, aged 16, she placed 2nd at the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in Helsinki.

Batiashvili was one of the first of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists, from 1999 to 2001. She has collaborated in chamber music and concerto performances with cellist Alban Gerhardt and pianist Steven Osborne, both BBC New Generation Artists exactly contemporary with Batiashvili. She has also worked with a later BBC New Generation Artist, Ashley Wass, in recital. She made her BBC Proms debut in 2000.

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Magnus Lindberg dedicated a violin concerto to her, the world premiere of which she gave at Avery Fisher Hall, New York, on 22 August 2006 and European premiere in Sweden in October. Batiashvili and her husband, oboist François Leleux, commissioned from the Georgian composer Giya Kancheli the double concerto Broken Chant, which they premiered in February 2008 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London. She also commissioned a solo violin encore from her compatriot Igor Loboda for solo violin, “Requiem for Ukraine”, which was meant to be a statement against conductor Valery Gergiev’s cozy relationship with the regime of Vladimir Putin.

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Batiashavili became artist-in-residence with the New York Philharmonic for the 2014/15 season, and with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia for the 2017/18 season. In parallel, she has an artist residency with the NDR Symphony Orchestra.

Her commercial recordings include Magnus Lindberg’s Violin Concerto No. 1 as part of her recording contract with Sony Classical, which she signed in 2007. And more recently, she has recorded several albums with Deutsche Grammophon, including in 2016, a much-acclaimed album of the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius Violin Concertos and in 2017, an album of Prokofiev’s works including his Violin Concertos 1 and 2.

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She plays a 1739 Guarneri del Gesu violin (Cozio 61377) lent to her from the private collection of an anonymous German collector.

Batiashvili is married to French oboist François Leleux. They have resided in both Munich and France with their two children. (wikipedia)

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And here´s a very unique album by Lisa Batiashvili :

Lisa Batiashvili’s new album takes the listener across the world with eleven carefully chosen pieces that represent the most important cities in her life, as well as a suite based on Charlie Chaplin’s own music for City Lights and other films of his.
The idea came out of a conversation between Batiashvili and her friend the composer-arranger Nikoloz Rachveli. Batiashvili says: ‘Chaplin was very popular in Georgia when I was a child. He was a multi-talent, not only acting and making movies, but writing gorgeous music. For me, he represents the beauty and creative imagination of the 20th century.’ Their idea of creating a suite inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s music and his films grew into an autobiographical concept based on key cities in Batiashvili’s life, each of which has some personal, musical or violinistic connection.

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A journey from her native Georgia to Paris, Berlin, Buenos Aires and Hollywood features ground-breaking collaborations with artists as diverse as Miloš, Katie Melua and Till Brönner. City Lights shares the beautiful melodies from Cinema Paradiso and Chaplin’s own compositions with all time classics from Piazzolla, the late Michel Legrand – in new arrangements by Nikoloz Rachveli  – as well as J.S. Bach – arranged by Anders Hillborg  – and last, but not least a new song by Katie Melua about the magic of London. (press release)

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The idea for this recording came out of a casual conversation between fellow Georgians Lisa Batiashvili and Nikoloz Rachveli about the genius of film composers such as Chaplin and Morricone, and ended up as something of a travelogue, with each of its 12 tracks reflecting the violinist’s relationship with a different city. In many ways, it’s closer to a pop music concept album, like Sinatra’s ‘Come Fly with Me’ (1958), than a classical recital programme. Contributing to this impression, many of Rachveli’s arrangements have a lushness that brings to mind the work of, say, Billy May (who did the orchestrations for ‘Come Fly with Me’) or Nelson Riddle. The sound is slickly produced, with Batiashvili made an almost otherworldly presence, like the voice of the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz – reverberant and larger than life. There are a host of special effects, too. At the end of ‘Paris’, for instance, a technicoloured version of a sweetly nostalgic melody by Michel Legrand gradually fades to black-and-white, as the sound is manipulated to evoke a skipping, scratchy old record.

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The album begins with a medley of tunes from Chaplin films, shaped by Rachveli into a suave narrative arc. Hollywood glamour returns with the love theme from Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso, Batiashvili’s homage to ‘Rome’, in the guise of an unabashedly sentimental duet between Batiashvili and the cellist Maximilian Hornung. ‘Berlin’, a dramatic fantasy on ‘Ich hab’ noch einen Koffer in Berlin’ (made famous by Marlene Dietrich), features the German jazz trumpeter Till Brönner, who improvises coolly around Batiashvili, who plays it straight, as it were. For ‘London’, the Georgian-born pop star Katie Melua sings a saccharine song she wrote for the album, which makes me feel a little less miffed that New York, my own city, is represented by Czech music – an excerpt from the slow movement of Dvořák’s New World Symphony.

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At no point can I fault Batiashvili’s playing. She’s unfailingly expressive and sends off fireworks when called for, as in The Lark – the Enescu-esque ‘Bucharest’ selection – or Strauss’s Furioso Galopp (‘Vienna’). Yet while the orchestral playing is well drilled, I often find it seems more dutiful than exuberant. Rhythms in the Piazzolla set, for instance, have nowhere near enough bite. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the most intensely played number is the one representing Tbilisi, Batiashvili and Rachveli’s hometown. It’s also the most daring musically. A Medley on Themes by Giya Kancheli may not seem promising on paper but Rachveli does justice to the Georgian composer who died last year. Here, at last, given meaningful contrast, the thread of sentimentality that runs through the record shines pure and bright.


Lisa Batiashvili (violin)
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra (on 10. – 12.)
Conductor: Nikoloz Rachveli
David Abesadze (vocals on 12.)
Till Brönner (trumpet on 04.)
Tim Harries (bass on 10.)
Maximilian Hornung (cello on 07.)
Milos Karadaglic (guitar on 08.)
David Nozadze (vocals on 12.)



City Memories (Chaplin) 7.15.
01.1. The Terry Theme (From The Film Limelight)
01.2. La Violetera (From The Film City Lights)
01.1. Je Cherche Après Titine (From The Film Modern Times)
01.4. Awakening (From Limelight)

02. Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 639 (Bach) 3.34

03. Paris Violon (Legrand) 4.21

04. Ich hab’ noch einen Koffer in Berlin (Siegel) 7.50

05. Evening Song (Traditional) 4.28

06. Furioso Galopp Op. 114 (Strauss/Liszt) 3.00

07. Love Theme (From The Film Cinema Paradiso) (A.Morricone/E.Moriccone) 4.22

Buenos Aires:
08. Adiós Nonino – Vuelvo Al Sur – Buenos Aires Hora Cero (Piazolla) 7.02

New York:
09. Largo (From Symphony No. 9 “From The New World” Op. 95) (Dvorak) 4.51

10. No Better Magic (Melua) 5.46

11. The Lark (After A Romanian Folk Song) (Koncz) 3.10

12. Medley On Themes By Giya Kancheli (For Violin, Tape And Orchestra) 10.16
Herio Bichebo / Tovlis Panteli / Lament / Styx




Nikoloz Rachveli (born 15 May 1979) is a Georgian conductor, composer and cultural manager. He composes and arranges for theatre and film, using themes from Georgian and non-Georgian composers. Memanishvili is the Principal Conductor of the Georgia National Symphony Orchestra, and Head of the Georgia National Music Center. He has been leading the Mikeladze Symphony Orchestra since 2007. (wikipedia)

The official website:

David Benoit – It’s A David Benoit Christmas! (2020)

FrontCover1David Bryan Benoit (born August 18, 1953) is an American jazz pianist, composer and producer, based in Los Angeles, California, United States. Benoit has charted over 25 albums since 1980, and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards. He is also music director for the Pacific Vision Youth Symphony (previously known as the Asia America Symphony Orchestra) and the Asia America Youth Orchestra. Furthermore, crediting Vince Guaraldi as an inspiration, Benoit has participated both as performer and music director for the later animated adaptations of the Peanuts comic strip, such as the feature film, The Peanuts Movie, restoring Guaraldi’s musical signature to the franchise.

David Bryan Benoit was born in Bakersfield, California, on August 18, 1953. He studied piano at age 13 with Marya Cressy Wright and continued his training with Abraham Fraser, who was the pianist for Arturo Toscanini. He attended Mira Costa High School. He focused on theory and composition at El Camino College, studying orchestration with Donald Nelligan, and later took film scoring classes taught by Donald Ray at UCLA. His education in music conducting began with Heiichiro Ohyama, assistant conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic, and continued with Jan Robertson, head of the conducting department at UCLA. He worked with Jeffrey Schindler, Music Director for the UC Santa Barbara symphony orchestra.

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He began his career as a musical director and conductor for Lainie Kazan in 1976, before moving on to similar roles with singer/actresses Ann-Margret and Connie Stevens.

His GRP Records debut album, Freedom at Midnight (1987), made it to number 5 on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. Benoit also says that it was his favorite album to produce, because it was when “everything came together,” as he stated in an interview on An earlier “live in the studio” (direct record, no mixing or overdubs) album on Spindletop Records, This Side Up (previously 1986), was re-released on the GRP label.

Waiting for Spring (1989) made it to number 1 on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart. Shadows, from 1991, made it to number 2 on the Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.

Out of respect for one of his main influences, Bill Evans, he dedicated his 1992 album Letter to Evan to him.

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Many of his songs employ a string section, most notably on his American Landscape (1997) and Orchestral Stories (2005) albums.

In 2000, after the death of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, he released a memorial album entitled Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years. Collaborators included the chorus group Take 6, guitarist Marc Antoine and trumpeter Chris Botti. He also did the music for “Peanuts” in the later specials, after Vince Guaraldi’s death. The album made it to number 2 on the Top Jazz Albums chart. An earlier cover of Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy”, recorded in 1985 for the aforementioned album This Side Up, enjoyed notable radio airplay and helped to launch the smooth jazz genre.

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Benoit has arranged, conducted, and performed music for many popular pop and jazz artists, including Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons (he was involved with the band in its formative stages, and they often appeared on each other’s albums), Kenny Loggins, Michael Franks, Patti Austin, Dave Koz, Kenny Rankin, Faith Hill, David Lanz, Cece Winans, David Pack, David Sanborn, The Walt Disney Company and Brian McKnight. He paid homage to one of his chief influences, Leonard Bernstein, by playing, arranging, and performing on The Songs of West Side Story, an all-star project produced by David Pack which achieved gold sales status. Benoit contributed to the Rippingtons’s debut album, Moonlighting, which was named the most influential contemporary jazz album of all time by Jazziz magazine.

The Benoit/Freeman Project album was given 41⁄2 stars by AllMusic, the highest rating Benoit has received from the service, and the album made it to number 2 on the Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart from Billboard.

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Benoit’s music can be heard during The Weather Channel’s “Local on the 8s” segments. His version of “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” by Vince Guaraldi is included on the album The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II (2008). In May 2011, Benoit began hosting a morning program at jazz radio station KKJZ in Long Beach, California.

Benoit has performed at the White House for three U.S. Presidents: Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush Sr. Other dignitaries he performed for include Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, former Los Angeles mayors Tom Bradley and James Hahn, as well as Senator Dick Durbin. (wikipedia)

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Benoit was bitten by the jazz bug after watching a Charlie Brown special on television and listening to the music of Vince Guaraldi in 1965. “I was already a fan of the comic strip,” he says, “but when I heard that jazz piano trio, that was the defining moment when I decided that I wanted to play like Vince Guaraldi.” (press release)

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Is it a Charlie Brown Christmas again for you? It is for David Benoit, the successor to Vince Guaraldi as the musical maestro for the Peanuts specials. It’s A David Benoit Christmas includes all your favorites from the animated shows, both originals by Guaraldi and Benoit and traditional tunes like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” (

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Tremendous fun, lots of memories, and great playing:
David Benoit is a well-known pianist, and when this popped up as a new release I had to listen it. First play through, there’s so many tracks that remind me of watching Charlie Brown specials on TV as a much younger person that it brought back a flood of memories. Benoit takes the themes we know and brings his own take to them, with a little shakeup here and there for fun. And fun is what this CD is, bringing toe tapping to the feet and a smile to the face. Yes, it’s Christmas themed, but this is a CD I will be listening to year-round. An auditory delight, with well-known music. (by Tim Parker)

Yes .. a real superb piano Jazz Christmas album .., I will listen to this album … on Christmas Eve this year !


David Benoit (piano)

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01. Christmas Time Is Here (from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”) (Guaraldi) 2.58
02. Skating (from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”) (Guaraldi) 2.49
03. O Tannenbaum (Traditional) 2.25
04. Carol Of The Bells (Leontoyych/Benoit) 2.05
05. Christmas Is Coming (from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”) (Guaraldi)  2.50
06. My Little Drum (from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”) (Guaraldi) 2.56
07. My Favorite Things (from “The Sound Of Music”) (Rogers/Benoit) 3.24
08. Peppermint Patty (from “Peanuts”) (Guaraldi) 1.49
09. You’re In Love, Charlie Brown (From “Peanuts”) (Guaraldi) 2.11
10. The Christmas Song (Tormé/Guaraldi) 2.57
11. Pebble Beach (from “Peanuts”) (Guaraldi) 2.40
12. What Child Is This (Greensleeves) (Traditional) 3.29
13. Red Baron (from “Peanuts”) (Guaraldi) 3.41
14. Linus And Lucy (from “Peanuts”) (Guaraldi) 4.03
15. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Coots/Benoit) 2.28
16. Oh, Good Grief (from “Peanuts”) (Guaraldi) 2.06
17. Just Like Me (from “Peanuts”) (Benoit) 3.48
18. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Mendelssohn) 2.40



Interview taken

“Benoit tickles those keys and this is a definite masterclass on how to play the piano with feeling.” (The Jazz World)

“Accessible, adventurous and inspiring.” (Jazz Times)

The official website: