'It is important for her to create the magic of the fairy tale material on the one hand through a distinctly sophisticated palette of touch and, even more so, through the vital agility of her phrasing, which approximates dance. The fact that she succeeds in this consistently testifies to a pianistic quality with which she can effortlessly fulfill the rather feared technical demands of the "Petrushka" pieces and lend a plastic profile to the very different tunings and colors of the miniatures of the ballets by Prokofieff and Tchaikovsky.
As far as the expression of the pieces is concerned, the works do not lose the slightest thing under her hands. And last but not least, the quality of the compositions is all the more evident in the tonally transparent versions. An extremely entertaining and high-quality enrichment of the piano catalog.'
Aachener Zeitung, 06/12/21
'Esther Birringer has chosen piano transcriptions from three great Russian ballets for her recital album. She always keeps the plot of the ballets in mind and does not use the music for a virtuoso show.
Thus, the three Petrouchka pieces are not about pure piano brilliance with breathtaking tempos, but about moods, about what is going on in the ballet. Sophisticated rhythms, finely dosed
colors, dynamic gradations and rhetorical rubato make the three pieces very distinctive. In Prokofiev’s Roméo et Juliette, too, the dancing is emphasized, sound tableaus are designed that project
the ballet in the listener’s mind.
Birringer also shows herself to be an intelligent performer in Mikhail Pletnev’s Nutcracker arrangement. With fine dynamic nuances and well thought-out articulation, she combines the ballet music’s élan with an ideal espressivo.' to the article
'With a lot of sound fantasy and orchestral sound'
'The (...) pianist not only plays this impressively virtuosic, she also convinces with a lot of sound fantasy and orchestral sound on the piano. (...) Her playing sounds powerful and full in
the tutti, but she can also "imitate" individual instruments. (...) Esther Birringer turns it into an instrumental theater, under her hands the piano becomes a performance stage. Esther Birringer
(...) has made a brilliant debut - chapeau!'
Radio Bremen, 06/06/21
'When pictures are hearable on the piano'
'Under her fingers the artist awakens the figures to life, so that they dance in front of the listener's mind's eye. [...] One notices the sovereignty of the virtuoso on the album Once Upon A Time. [...] Without being overly bold, she sometimes lets her fingers whisper on the keyboard, but then again, she attacks the right places with the necessary vehemence. [...] Handstand is successful in every way.' more
'Musical journey between virtuosity and poetry'
'As for the piano, this is a performance that strives for diversity of articulation as well as modesty and, in a way, humility, because you don't hear it competing with the violin; on the opposite, the two instruments breathe together and pay a beautiful homage to the spirit of chamber music.'
'Master on her instrument'
'An important part [...] was held by the pianist Esther Birringer, who very well let her sister take the lead here, but did not hide. And wherever possible, both sisters acted as partners and inspired each other to playful top performances.'
Luxemburger Tageblatt, 11/01/19
'Frenetic applause for a concert at its best'
'What was special was rather the pronounced elegance, sensuality and brilliance of the deeply plumbing, extremely expressive interpretation of these romantic-salonesque bravura pieces, all and all performed with the utmost precision and heart and soul.'
'The Birringer siblings take the listener by the hand and of course show with some pride and conviction their personal showpieces from the virtuoso romantic music cabinet. Their enticing "Look here" is directed at the small hidden details, elegant turns or some seemingly improvised ornamentation and not at the acrobatic devilries without a net, which reveal themselves anyway. With so much honest and creative musicianship drawn from oneself, even a music person like me with over 50 years of recording experience, who has been bathed in so many waters, can really let himself be carried away by this album.'
Dr. Ingobert Waltenberger, OnlineMerker, 09/05/19
'Many a visitors' breath was taken away. [...] After the intermission [...] follows [...] "Trois mouvements de Pétrouchka" by Igor Stravinsky. A demanding solo piece for piano, which Esther [...] plays perfectly, tremulously putting herself to work in the breathtaking runs along the keyboard, only to pause again in gentle tones with supple movements.'
Saarbrücker Zeitung, 5/15/19
'The sibling duo Lea and Esther Birringer delighted with their perfectly coordinated music-making and sparkling virtuosity in Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra. This rousing interpretation turned the sensitive harmonic work into a melodic listening experience.'
Kronen Zeitung, 11/20/18
'Sisterhood is powerful. The Birringers project the radiant joy of the Grieg Sonata, shadowed by Liszt’s moving introspection, and a justly proportioned, elegantly standout performance of
Franck’s evergreen Violin Sonata. [...] Chez the Birringer sisters one has the sensation of hearing it for the first time. Apart from a smiling sweetness in phrasing, a fluent alertness to
melody, the Birringers share a certain punctilio, a keenness of touch—a crisp articulation—on the keyboard met by dead-center intonation on the violin making for a scintillance which eschews all
slurring, smudging, or impatient approximations. These virtues loom up close and palpable in immediate, detailed sound, though the violin is, of course, primus inter pares. Here are performances
satisfying, gratifying, to live with and enthusiastically recommended.'
Fanfare Magazine, Issue July/August 18
'Passionate temperament and fine musical harmony'
'The duo of sisters from Saarland interprets a rounded, well-balanced program with passionate temperament and fine musical harmony. In the Grieg Sonata, the coexistence of academic forms and folkloric echoes is precisely assessed and balanced. In the exuberant fin-de-siècle romanticism of the Franck Sonata [...] the cyclical formal elements are worked out with rare clarity. The ascetic sound-world of the late Liszt is accurately captured, providing an effective contrast between the two weighty major works.'
Fono Forum, Issue July 18
'Romantic contrast was the 'Sonata in F major' by Edvard Grieg, performed by Lea Birringer on violin, accompanied on piano by her sister Esther, in delicate timbres; even spectacularly virtuosic the 'Polonaise de concert' by Henryk Wieniawski. A great duo.'
Lübeckische Blätter, 06/16/18
'An intelligent program and fine performances make this ['Lifelines'; note from the author] an attractive proposition even in a highly competitive field. [...] Even in such a crowded field,
with so many great performances of the Grieg and especially the Franck to choose from, the shrewdly programmed Liszt makes this album a keeper for me.'
Audiophile Audition, 05/31/18
'With elegance and dedication, the duo interpret a piece of Grieg’s, which we follow enthralled, as if hooked on a crime thriller. […] Even though the sisters have already delighted listeners with their recently released album Lifelines, live they now take their performance up a notch. In the Birringer family, romanticism doesn’t mean to radiate bliss, but to show what a piece is actually all about. Esther wonderfully lets off steam on the piano, while Lea seemingly casually unleashes fireworks on the violin. […] In any case, the audience are blown away.'
'The sisters Lea Birringer, violin and Esther Birringer, piano, provided emphases that must be taken seriously.'
Lübecker Nachrichten, 05/13/18
'Terrific, engaging release'
'In Grieg’s F-major Violin Sonata no. 1, the duo’s exacting technical control is paired with a strong, collective poetic sensibility that gamely draws out the music’s sometimes halting, often dissimilar personalities. Their playing is full of character, especially in the folk-like sections: the trio of the middle movement is full of vigor and the many Scandinavian fiddle gestures of the finale hold nothing back.
The Franck Violin Sonata that closes the album is similarly all-in. This is an interpretation that’s fully attuned to the score’s turbulent passions – the middle movements, with their wild contrasts and shifts of mood, color, and textures, burn particularly hot – but one that always manages to keep a cool head about itself. Textures are clear (a big plus in this busy piece), the score’s transforming structure clearly delineated, tempos consistently well-judged, and the playing pulsing with rhythmic energy.
Overall, this is a terrific, engaging release that offers the excitement of a live performance with the perfection of execution and acoustic you only get from a studio recording; in other words, the best of both worlds. Don’t miss it.'
The Arts Fuse, 04/26/18
'Characterful, if idiosyncratic, artists'
'The Liszt pieces are not exactly over-recorded, and the pair (Lea and Esther Birringer) approach them with style and the full-blooded commitment they bring to the entire disc. They sound like instinctive, physical players, and they’re very evidently on the same wavelength as regards the music’s ebb and flow. There’s a winning freshness about the way they tackle the Grieg in particular, bending into the sweep of a melody.'
Gramophone, Issue April 18
'With works by Grieg, Liszt and Franck, the sisters Lea and Esther Birringer play a seemingly conventional programme. But nevertheless, there is much to discover! A smart selection, according to Jörg Lengersdorf.
'Even simple airs boast stunningly inspired moments of chamber music interplay. […] Yet many chamber music fans may well still have a space on their CD shelves, and this one is definitely worth discovering.'
'Luckily, sisters Lea and Esther Birringer do not count among those musicians who are exclusively fixated on flawless notes. They seek personal, human access to these three composers. The most jubilant is their encounter with Grieg’s youthfully passionate sonata, whose zest for life and joie de vivre are clear from the very first note. The opening sparkles like the first rays of sunshine of the day, and the leisurely buildup is completely natural and unforced. The middle movement is also magical […] Liszt sounds mature and reserved, but no less expressive and oppressive too.'
The New Listener, 03/10/18
'High enthusiasm at the Q.lisse'
'To describe them as a team sworn to each other would be an understatement. […] But what impresses is not just the harmony, but above all their musical and technical skill.'
Saarbrücker Zeitung, 03/05/18
'With the greatest degree of precision'
'Worthy of especial praise are their intimate manner of playing and the tonal beauty. And of course it goes without saying that the whole is sustained with the greatest degree of precision.'
'A musical force to be reckoned with'
'Anyone as good-looking as Lea and Esther Birringer might occasionally encounter reservations in the classical music scene, which is becoming increasingly focused on outward appearances. These reservations are wholly unjustified, of course, because the two beautiful sisters from Saarland are a musical force to be reckoned with. Both of them also perform as soloists, but it is precisely as a duo that they captivate audiences with their technical ability, profound musicality and – above all – perfect harmony. Atmospherically dense, they play the two rarely heard Liszt Elegies, which form the centrepiece of their new CD. And they also artfully make the other two pieces, Edvard Grieg’s First Sonata and César Franck’s famous Sonata in A Major, their own: Their Grieg is poetic and subtle, and their rendition of Franck shows a real fire burning within them.'
'Interpretational moments of bliss'
'On this CD, the sisters Lea and Esther Birringer show just how vivaciously, excitingly, spontaneously and at the same time delightfully, homogeneously and artistically chamber music can be performed. I have to admit that I have never heard Grieg’s First Violin Sonata rendered so beautifully, in such dialogue and so full of atmosphere as on this recording. Lea and Esther Birringer prove to be an ideal team, as first-rate musical partners.
Their dialogues flow with such wonderful naturalness and the virtuosity resulting from this naturalness is captivating, but never excessive. The two Elegies by Franz Liszt are also perfectly balanced and show the Birringers to be very clever and above all highly competent musicians.
The atmospheric density and simply wonderful playing make Franck’s Violin Sonata a real jewel. At each point, the listener has the feeling that the music just has to sound like this and that Lea and Esther Birringer’s rendition is the only possible interpretation. In addition to these interpretational moments of bliss, the two performers also display a breathtaking technique that makes listening a real pleasure, especially as the excellent recording technique presents Lea and Esther Birringer’s interpretations and musical talent in an optimal light. This musical adventure is an absolute must for any chamber music aficionado.'
'Without a hint of routine'
'The true musical stars of the evening were the Birringer sisters: [...] the ace up their sleeve was the intimate dialogue between violin and piano: an almost blind faith, fantastically expressive in their interaction, without a hint of routine.'
'A wonderful performance to experience'
'In the expressive piano part she satisfies the highest expectations with her powerful virtuosity and immaculate playing - performing as an equal partner to the orchestra, full of inner lyricism and sparkling fluency.'
Vorarlberger Nachrichten, 09/29/17
'Aural delight through and through'
'Lifelines"' gathers highly dramatic and deeply romantic pieces from Grieg, Liszt and Franck, and was also recorded at Saarländische Rundfunk. It is an aural delight through and through.'
Saarbrücker Zeitung, 09/19/17
'Rapturous applause at the end of the season'
'In Franz Liszt’s two elegies, fragile lightness alternated with passionate, gloomy emotions. The piano often sounded as clear and vitreous as a harp. Lea Birringer played in a smoky-sonorous manner on her violin, then again bright, immaculate tones, which seemed to caress the piano.'
Oberbayerisches Volksblatt, 09/12/17