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Musical World

Arabella Steinbacher

  • Violinist


Arabella Steinbacher press reviews

“Arabella Steinbacher appears to straddle the two most influential playing styles of the second half of the 20th century. On the one hand she possesses the outsize bravado flair, staccato resonance and ringing, tonally-centred opulence familiar from those Juilliard alumni who studied with either Ivan Galamian or Dorothy DeLay (a former Steinbacher mentor). On the other, she plays with the enhanced lower dynamic range, exquisitely floated bow strokes and micro-fine interpretative detailing from such maverick individualists as Gidon Kremer and Thomas Zehetmair.” – Julian Haylock in The Strad, September 2008

“Steinbacher's career has been on a meteoric assent since her debut with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in 2004. Her debut performance with the PSO proved she is worthy of the hype. Her rendition of Max Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy" was excellent. She brought a clear, lyrical and dynamic sound that Janowski had no trouble balancing with the full orchestra.” – Burkhardt Reiter in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 25 October 2008

“Steinbacher bites into every measure, singing, wailing, alternately a chanteuse and an alley cat. Rarely has a violin’s G-string been tested, punished, or pampered so thoroughly and at once. After the lassu section, the piano’s harp and cimbalom figurations take us to the friss, so the csardas can invoke a gypsy orchestra in its full cups. A glittering, rakish, audacious cascade of virtuoso sounds, the Steinbacher performance will sear the feathers off any audiophile’s sound system while raising the temperatures of all who care to listen.” – Gary Lemco in Audiophile Audition on Steinbacher’s recording of Ravel’s Tzigane, 18 March 2009

“Steinbacher’s was the kind of performance which had her audience hanging on her every note. She played like someone with the most urgent of messages to communicate, and all the skills necessary for that communication. She was as happy to take her listeners by the scruff of the neck as to woo them with heart-melting tenderness.” – Michael Dervan in the Irish Times, 3 April 2009

“In Mozart’s G major Violin Concerto the ’Con Brio’ mood was still there, but purged of post-modern games and touched with an innocent radiance. That quality was beautifully revealed by the soloist Arabella Steinbacher. She has an old-fashioned constant sweet vibrato which a generation of ’period’ players have taught us to resist, and for about five minutes I did. But the guileless charm of that sound soon got past my scruples.” – Ivan Hewett in The Daily Telegraph, 30 July 2009

“Ravel’s Sonata has been taken as demonstration of (celebration of? case against?) the inherent disparity (incompatibility) of the violin and the piano. Coming after the suave integration the duo evidenced in Fauré’s Sonata, such a contrast could provide quite a jolt. Like Szigeti, Steinbacher extrudes all the unnecessary butterfat from her tone for a first movement by turns spiky and haunting (Kulek joins her wholeheartedly in recreating its eerie otherworldly sensibility—both seem capable, as many artists simply aren’t, of playing a true pianissimo); the climax sounds nearly as frightening as it does in Szigeti’s recording. Not every artist can achieve the freedom from sheerly beautiful sound necessary to project this work’s full emotional gamut (consider Grumiaux). The duo begins the second movement without the kind of dirty sliding timbres that its idiom might evoke, but continues in the first movement’s fey vein—down and dirty comes later in the movement. The finale builds to as exciting a climax as I’ve heard. . . The recorded sound captures the duo’s dynamic range, representing the instrumentalists in near-perfect balance and the sizzle and the tensile strength of the 1716 Booth Stradivari (or could that be Steinbacher’s sizzle and strength?). Recommended especially for the reading of Ravel’s works, convincing and, at times, simply boffo.” – Robert Maxham in Fanfare on Steinbacher’s Poulenc, Fauré, Ravel CD, January/February 2009

“The world can never have enough brilliant, beautiful young violinists and Munich-born Arabella Steinbacher is a classic of the species. She owes her exotic looks and musicality to her Japanese mother and German father; Mum was an operatic soprano, Dad a repetiteur (rehearsal pianist and coach) at the Bavarian State Opera. But after mastering the basic technique of the fiddle, aged just 3, and then turning herself into a dab hand at the piano, Steinbacher acquired two more mentors: the fiery octogenarian Israeli violinist Ivry Gitlis, and the cool German virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter – who supported Steinbacher to the extent of presenting her with a valuable violin bow. Now, with more than 20 different concertos under her belt, Steinbacher looks set to conquer the world.” – The Sunday Times, 3 June 2009

“Steinbacher — of German-Japanese parentage — has already made her mark on the Orfeo label in (for a German-trained musician) slightly offbeat repertoire: Khachaturian, Shostakovich, Milhaud, French and Hispanic works. Here she establishes herself as a virtuoso in the grand tradition with absolutely mainstream, “Romantic” accounts of these two great but contrasting Austro-German works: her keen, intense tone captures the anguish that lies at the heart of Berg’s concerto, written in 1935-36 “to the memory of an angel”, an instrumental requiem for Manon, the 18-year-old daughter of Alma Mahler and her second husband, the architect Walter Gropius. With Nelsons and Cologne’s superb WDR orchestra, Steinbacher reaches into the heart of this serial but heart-rendingly lyrical work. Her Beethoven, too, eschews virtuoso histrionics in favour of an almost dream-like inwardness in the slow movement.” – Hugh Canning in The Sunday Times on Steinbacher’s Beethoven/Berg album, 9 August 2009

"Arabella Steinbacher was the soloist and drew on some old-school effects (honeyed vibrato, pure and unfussy phrasing) for a likeable, engaging performance" -Neil Fisher in The Times on 3December 2009