Various Composers: Opera Fantasies.
Natasha Korsakova: violin, Kira Ratner: piano (CD Solo Musica)This is the latest CD by Natasha Korsakova, and half of the 75-minute programme it contains is devoted to themes from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin. The CD also contains pieces by Giuseppe Verdi, Gioacchino Rossini and Jacques Offenbach in appealing arrangements. Natasha is beautiful and friendly, and over the course of our brief talk, it is somewhat difficult to bring myself to look away from her. This violinist is only in her thirties but she is a major musician. Her formal training and the captivating sound that she is able to tease out of her instrument are the reasons why she is one of the best players of her generation. The violin she plays is her favourite: a wonderful Panormo instrument from 1765, lent to her by the Mannheimer insurance company. And there is no doubt that she has earned it. Only a few days ago, Natasha performed three concerts in a row at the Auditorium di Milano, together with the Giuseppe Verdi Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Giuseppe Grazioli. She played the Spanish Symphony by Eduard Lalo, a difficult piece which is only rarely performed in this country, to rapturous reception.
According to the concert programme distributed at the concert hall, she was born in Moscow to Greek and Russian parentage. She now lives in Germany, and began playing the violin at the age of five. Her surname should also raise a few eyebrows. If you have already guessed, you’re right. She is from the youngest generation of a line of musicians directly descended from Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. She was taught by her grandfather, Boris Korsakov, and her father was the famous violinist Andrei Korsakov. The selection of the pieces on this CD speaks for themselves: her favourite composers are Gershwin and Verdi. There is no doubt that we will be hearing a lot more from Natasha in the future.
Il Foglio Rome/Milan
“The young Russian violinist Natasha Korsakova, great-great grand niece to the composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, performs arrangements of well-known opera melodies. She plays adaptations of pieces from “Porgy and Bess”, “Il Barbiere di Siviglia”, “Les Contest d’Hoffmann”, and “La Traviata” with stirring musicality, as if the melodies had originally been composed for the violin. With her exquisite sense of style and musical integrity, the beautiful Natasha plays with technical brilliance. This is quite an exceptional musical treat!”
Arrangements Pass with Flying Colours
“The world of classical music is hardly complaining at the moment about a lack of young and talented female violinists – they certainly include Russian-Greek talent Natasha Korsakova, who is now destined to make a name for herself with her latest interpretation of arrangements of famous opera melodies. These virtuoso concert pieces are played to full effect. The precision timing with piano accompanist Kira Ratner is impressive. But Korsakova’s “special love” of George Gershwin’s music is audible: the fantasia on “Porgy and Bess” shows her playful handling of sophisticated harmony, jazzy rhythms and singing melody.”
Natasha Korsakova: “Opera Fantasies”
“On her CD “Opera Fantasies” she both affirms and frees herself from her artistic roots: the CD tracks are not just a collection of showcase pieces for lighting fireworks on the violin. Instead, we are treated to a landscape tour through the art of witty adaptation of opera classics. Being a relative of a composer who himself once completed 15 operas, Korsakova approaches the pieces with perfect artistic dedication … Natasha Korsakova has mastered a highly differentiated sound and compositional repertoire, compelling her audience to listen attentively because of her uncompromising play that never once lapses into bourgeois sentimentalities. St. Petersburg-born pianist Kira Ratner is an ingenious accompanist to the young Russian. The disciplined and also highly sensitive playing by Korsakova awakens our curiosity about how she would tackle a piece such as Ravel’s “Tzigane”, which belongs to a similar virtuoso tradition …”
Codex Flores Onlinemagazin für alle Bereiche der klassischen Musik (online magazine for all genres of classical music)
“… Young, outstanding violinists are truly not in short supply. Here is another artist who attracts our attention with her quite extraordinary feeling for the right note and the perfect phrase. Integrity is coupled with inspirational musicality. She is captivating and to the point, devious, and invitingly seductive (especially dazzling with Gershwin). Korsakova’s weakness for designer fashion is certainly no PR stunt, but wonderfully complements her musical presence …”
For the Music Lover
Virtuoso Violinist and Feminine Beauty Go Hand in Hand.
“… She is a picture of beauty, a Russian who speaks six languages and was once celebrated as a child prodigy, and she has made the transition to a mature artist who is to be taken seriously. This is obvious from her impressive album “Opera Fantasies” (Sola Musica, SM 101), which features her playing opera arrangements together with her piano accompanist Kira Ratner. Ever since her first visit as a child to Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, she has been fascinated by opera. Her special love of this music is tangible in every single recorded piece. The way that Natasha Korsakova knows how to play Gershwin’s music making it seem light, lyrical, dreamy and full of swing (one “Porgy and Bess” arrangement by Jascha Heifetz, another by Igor Frolov), or how full of passion and inspiration she plays Verdi (“La Traviata”, “Ernani”), Rossini (“The Barber of Seville”) and Offenbach (“The Tales of Hoffmann”) shows that she knows how to make her violin speak – her talent is in a class of its own …”
Recording One (two parts) Joan Sutherland turns 80: the best Arias from “La Stupenda”
“Opera Fantasies for violin … On the photos, Natasha Korsakova looks like a model. But the impression inside the booklet of her CD “Opera Fantasies” is deceiving. When the violinist starts to play George Gershwin’s variations “Porgy and Bess”, any trace of superficiality fades away. The piece arranged by violin virtuoso Jascha Heifetz flows from the Russian violinist’s instrument as if it were her own voice, sounding like a stream of classical music, blues and cabaret. On this CD, even Verdi and Rossini sound as if they had composed opera arias only for the violin …”
Identical Review also in: Hamburger Morgenpost
NATASHA KORSAKOVA: Opera Fantasies (Classical) Opera Melodies …
“… Opera Melodies (Verdi, Rossini, Offenbach, Gershwin) in transcriptions for violin and piano – that sounds like musical kitsch. Maybe some of it is. But when the young violinist Natasha Korsakova (piano: Kira Ratner) performs with such accomplishment, it becomes a delight to listen to.”