This must count as one of the most satisfying surveys of Ravel’s complete violin music in the catalogue. Alina Ibragimova brings a superb sense of poise and litheness to the mature Sonata, with a delightful sense of humour in the Blues movement that, accompanied by Cédric Tiberghien’s fresh and jazzy pianism, reminds us that its composition was contemporary with Ravel’s opera L’enfant et les sortilèges. Tzigane is a masterclass in virtuosity, the early A major Sonata movement a model of tonal subtlety, and the Berceuse a brief but telling essay in restraint.
Guillaume Lekeu’s 1893 Violin Sonata is solidly in the Franckian tradition: over half an hour of finely spun melody, with harmonies that back up the story that the hyper-sensitive composer fainted on first hearing Wagner’s Tristan at Bayreuth and had to be carted from the theatre. Its prolixity makes it difficult music to shape successfully, but shape it these two magnificent players do, providing it with a constant sense of purpose and motion, even in the strangely untroubled metre of the 7/8 slow movement, where Ibragimova indulges is some exquisite pianissimo playing. And the Tristanesque climaxes to both outer movements have one on the edge of one’s seat in their latent ecstasy. A superb disc, marvellously recorded by Hyperion’s top team.
From the November 2011 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.