The New York Times
Joining Mr. Zukerman for Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, the excellent Bella Hristova was subtle and elegant, her tone clear and pure. She brought some fire to the final movement…with her impeccable sound and technique…
The New York Times
She brought accomplished technique, penetrating sound and probing musicianship to Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor…it was clear that we were hearing an artist in command of what she was doing. The first movement soon breaks into spans of toccatalike passagework, which Ms. Hristova dispatched articulately, even while her ear was alert to jagged rhythms and harmonic quirks in the music. And she brought hearty energy to the rustic finale.
The New York Times
Ms. Hristova had the spotlight to herself in Dvorak’s lush, sweetly melodic Romance in F (Op. 11) and Saint-Saëns’s unabashedly showy Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (Op. 28), and she acquitted herself beautifully. In the Dvorak she produced a lovely, often soaring tone and was deftly supported by the orchestra’s trim woodwind and brass sections. And she built the Saint-Saëns showpiece with an effective dramatic sense that proceeded from the work’s graceful beginning to its sizzling finale.
The Washington Post
Violinist Bella Hristova is no shrinking violet. Her performance of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 8 established her as a player of impressive power and control…The Andantino movement of Corigliano’s Sonata for Violin and Piano exuded tenderness and sweet-toned appeal. In Hristova’s hands, it became the arresting centerpiece of the evening. Hristova’s fervent treatment of the first movement (of Saint-Saëns’s Violin Sonata) and headlong virtuosity in the finale deservedly brought the audience to its feet.
The New York Times
The exuberant first movement (of Corigliano’s Violin Sonata) leads to an elegiac Andantino, whose soaring melody Ms. Hristova played with expressive nuance and a rich tone, particularly attractive in the violin’s plummy lower range... Ms. Hristova played the yearning melodies later in the work beautifully (Messiaen Fantasie). The program ended with a richly hued and soulful rendition of Saint-Saëns’s Sonata No. 1 in D minor.
Hristova played the work with passion from the very first note. She has an innate musicality that makes musical sense of each phrase she plays. Every sound she draws from her 1655 Amati is superb. By the time she had reached the final bars, everyone had become entranced by her playing.
One was particularly struck by her commanding stage presence, with a little hint of a young Anne-Sophie Mutter. During her performance of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in G Major, her sumptuous sound and sustained quality lent this youthful work a glowing intensity. Hristova played [the Corigliano] with easy confidence, from the fiery, slashing chords of the opening allegro to the operatic Andantino and the explosive finale. If anything, it sounded too easy. Saint-Saëns’s Violin Sonata was the night’s showstopper. The faster Hristova and Jokubaviciute played, the tighter their accord became; her articulations were spot-on throughout.
New Zealand Listener
Houstoun established a magical rapport with Bulgarian violinist Hristova during a New Zealand tour, part of her prize as winner of the 2007 Michael Hill International Violin Competition. Recording these sonatas a decade later, the passion, tenderness and sparkling brilliance of their playing and sensitive ensemble work reveal a shared conception of Beethoven’s music.
The Virginia Gazette
Hristova delivered the [Brahms] with finesse, easily handling the work’s double stops, cascading lines, dizzying virtuoso passages and rhythmic changes, displaying a warm, inviting sound and overall mastery and passion.
New Zealand Listener
With fire and bounce in the fast sections, a seductive dancing spirit in the variations and an ending of sparkling zest, Hristova and Houstoun demonstrate again the special rapport that makes this significant release a huge listening pleasure.
She was lightning personified, flying through its rolls on the first and final movement and turning its tough cadenza into butter with clear, precise fingering and smart dynamics.
Winnipeg Free Press
Her pitch-perfect intonation and seamless phrasing proved she had this masterwork well in hand, as she proceeded to perform the three-movement piece with a focused intensity and plenty of dramatic flair…the soloist next showed the audience of 1,119 the fuller colours of her rich tonal palette, including rendering its lyrical melodic lines with limpid sweetness heightened further by her quicker vibrato…Hristova’s bravura shone most brightly during the spark-flying finale, including performing nearly non-stop figuration, skipping runs and sweeping arpeggios performed with lightness of bow and tossed off as easily as child’s play.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Violinist Bella Hristova gave the Foss a captivating performance, bringing a pure, ringing sound and uncluttered style to melodic passages and handling fast, technical sections with grace, ease, and a sense of country-fiddle fun.
Chicago Classical Review
Her silver-toned playing in the opening Allegro aperto was pristine and dig-nified, and in the Adagio her cantabile lines displayed the grace of a sensitive Mozart soprano. The closing Rondo had a magnanimous quality, its “Turkish” episode (which provides the work’s subtitle) was imbued with requisite flair.
New Zealand Herald
Bella Hristova and Michael Houstoun are a partnership of rare sympathy and accord; and they project the sense of discovery and adventure that this music needs…Throughout, Hristova and Houstoun were completely in tune with Beethoven's bold contrasts, shifting effortlessly from unaffected lyricism to the gruff and the carefully cultivated rustic.
Kansas City Star
Ludwig wrote the piece for violinist Bella Hristova, his wife, who performed the virtuosic and demanding solo part. Her dark timbre and dense fiddling suited the Eastern European influence integrated into the work. The semi-programmatic piece was based on the wedding ritual (preparation, commitment, community celebration). Ludwig created captivating moments and effects, with ascending glissandi, sliding harmonics, off-kilter dance rhythms and unusual timbral combinations.
The Rutland Herald
Hristova is one of today's young up-and-coming virtuosos and plays with a sure technique and a warm, often luscious sound. Here she alternated deep passion, fiery virtuosity and softness with sensitivity and a sense of the whole. Not so surprisingly, she delivered an invested and affecting performance.
New York Classical Review
Opening tremolos in the cellos and basses were soon picked up by the rest of the group, as the solo violin—here the superb Bella Hristova—began a haunting line that underlined the work’s title. At the conclusion, as Hristova waved the composer onstage, it was heartening to see the composer receive some of the night’s loudest ovations.
The other star of the evening was Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova, who was front and center for two contrasting works: Dvorak’s long-lined and charming Romance for Violin and Orchestra and Ravel’s fierce technical showpiece, his Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra. In both, Hristova played with a distinctive voice, a suave certainty and a creamy timbre that was without sharp edges, even in the spikey gypsy attack of the Ravel. The 1924 Tzigane gave her the opportunity to wow the audience with a smorgasbord of bowing techniques, singing stops, harmonics and a blizzard of sixteenth notes for a finale. She made it seem almost too easy, but great fun was had by all.
Ms. Hristova was superb playing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 Friday evening, executing fast moving passages and playing at the high range of her instrument flawlessly, while conveying all of the intense passion that Prokofiev had invested in this piece.
It was clear from her first note that Hristova's performance was informed by a sharp intelligence as much by a formidable technique. The way Hristova crafted each phrase, so that the entirety of the violin part seemed to be all of a piece, showed how deeply she has thought about this work.The robust, often piercing sound she drew from her Niccolo Amati violin had a distinctive, voice-like tone, whether she was ripping through passages at breakneck speed or caressing one of the more contemplative melodies of the second movement. Hristova returned for an encore, performing what she called "a traditional Bulgarian dance," that was in fact a real display of knuckle-cracking virtuosity.
Berkshire Fine Arts
The Dvorak and Saint-Saëns showed Hristova’s brilliant performance technique to full effect. The nuanced performance by Hristova was enchanting. As (she) dove in to the Saint Saëns, she contrasted splashy technical displays with wonderfully lyric themes. She masterfully performs with both power and control. The stunning articulation of chords played on the strings shows just how special an artist she is.
Hristova unflinchingly pulled out all the stops – and often gymnastic double-stops – required by the virtuoso composition, from rapid-fire bowing across all strings to manic runs up the full gamut of violin notes, and from brawny, gutsy digs to sweet, ephemeral traces of sound. With an authority beyond her years, she displayed unwavering power, technical skill and a full heart that amply plumbed the composer’s complex matrix of rational thought and far-flung emotion. It was a shining performance by a talent that could be heard from for a long time to come.
American Record Guide
Bella Hristova has an impeccable technique and plays very stylishly.
The musical diversity across the thirty eight minutes of these pieces is a delight. None of which would count for much if they were not played with the extraordinary virtuosity and musical maturity of Bella Hristova.
Bella Hristova, a young Bulgarian violinist now based in the USA, clearly enjoys playing these pieces. The brilliant passages come easily to her, and her playing throughout is neat and polished, with an elegance that perfectly suits the music.