Ibrag­i­mova’s Franck is po­etic and peer­less

The vi­olin­ist de­liv­ers a truly out­stand­ing pro­gramme with Cé­dric Tiberghien and leaves Christo­pher Din­gle crav­ing more

BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews -

L Boulanger Ysaÿe l l Franck Vierne l L Boulanger: Noc­turne;

Franck: Vi­o­lin Sonata in

A ma­jor; Vierne: Vi­o­lin Sonata in G mi­nor; Ysaÿe: Poème élé­giaque Alina Ibrag­i­mova (vi­o­lin),

Cé­dric Tiberghien (pi­ano) Hype­r­ion CDA68204 78:29 mins This is sim­ply su­perb in every way. Franck’s Sonata in A usu­ally dom­i­nates any vi­o­lin recital, es­pe­cially when the per­for­mance is as won­der­ful as this, yet here it is but one com­po­nent in an exquisitel­y bal­anced pro­gramme. The great Bel­gian vi­olin­ist Ysaÿe is the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor be­tween three of the works, doubt­less draw­ing on Alina Ibrag­i­mova’s strong pedi­gree in his mu­sic hav­ing al­ready recorded his chal­leng­ing solo sonatas. Ysaÿe’s con­tem­pla­tive Poème élé­giaque acts as the per­fect pre­lude, while both Vierne’s and Franck’s sonatas were writ­ten for him, the lat­ter as a wed­ding present.

Vierne’s four-move­ment sonata is the largest work and it is hard to imag­ine it played bet­ter. As Roger Nichols’s typ­i­cally elo­quent book­let es­say notes, Vierne was not only a pupil of Franck, but also gained a first prize in vi­o­lin from the Paris Con­ser­va­toire. This shows in an en­gross­ing, thor­oughly id­iomatic work that de­serves to be far bet­ter known. For those who only know the com­poser from his or­gan works, it will be a sur­prise to en­counter the in­tense gal­lop­ing fer­vour that opens the first move­ment, the third move­ment’s play­ful­ness or the sonata’s nu­mer­ous po­etic pas­sages.

Ibrag­i­mova and Cé­dric Tiberghien are typ­i­cally out­stand­ing through­out, play­ing with ex­cep­tional con­trol with­out ever for­sak­ing

spon­tane­ity. In­spired by the tomb scene from Romeo and Juliet, Ysaÿe’s Poème élé­giaque typ­i­fies the deep mu­si­cal­ity on dis­play here, for it was writ­ten at a point when he no longer felt the need to pro­claim his vir­tu­os­ity with showy fire­works. Ibrag­i­mova and Tiberghien con­vey each ebb and flow of its fluc­tu­at­ing moods, from melan­cholic hes­i­tancy to bur­nished pas­sion, with con­vic­tion and in­tegrity.

Whereas the soar­ing lines of this disc’s reper­toire prompts many vi­o­lin­ists to saw away re­lent­lessly, with Ibrag­i­mova it is the nu­mer­ous mo­ments of del­i­cate hush that are strik­ing, By find­ing a gos­samer-like fragility and still­ness not just in the mid­dle of Ysaÿe’s Poème or the beau­ti­ful An­dante Sostenuto of Vierne’s sonata, but even in the midst of Franck’s fear­some sec­ond move­ment, Ibrag­i­mova and Tiberghien build po­ten­tial en­ergy that is all the more dev­as­tat­ing when it is fi­nally un­leashed.

Make no mis­take, this per­for­mance of the Franck is among the finest on disc, its fre­quent in­ti­macy pro­vid­ing a dis­tinc­tive per­spec­tive. The tim­bral range of both play­ers is ex­cep­tional, Ibrag­i­mova not afraid to tear harsh sounds from her vi­o­lin as the high emotion of the Al­le­gro threat­ens to boil over. In the open­ing pages of the Recita­tivo-fan­ta­sia there is a won­der­ful sense of a pro­tag­o­nist mak­ing a singing decla­ma­tion, then huskily seek­ing re­as­sur­ance from the wings, with Tiberghien’s pi­ano re­spond­ing with whis­pered en­cour­age­ment.

Af­ter all this comes a per­fectly judged per­for­mance of Lili Boulanger’s sub­lime Noc­turne pro­vides a heart­melt­ing con­clu­sion to a gen­er­ously-filled disc that ends all too soon.

PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★★

RECORD­ING ★★★★★

Ibrag­i­mova and Tiberghien con­vey each ebb and flow of its fluc­tu­at­ing moods

Ex­cep­tional pair­ing: Alina Ibrag­i­mova and Cé­dric Tiberghien

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