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Ravel, Lekeu: Violin Sonatas, Etc / Alina Ibragimova, Cedric Tiberghien

Ravel / Lekeuibragimova / Tiberghien
Release Date: 09/13/2011 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67820   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Maurice RavelGuillaume Lekeu
Performer:  Alina IbragimovaCédric Tiberghien
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Tiberghien and Ibragimova certainly don't hold back from sweeping intensity but they still retain a measure of objectivity, finding places to relax and never pushing the expression beyond what sounds beautiful. The details are wonderfully idiomatic. It all adds up to a must-hear recital.

– Gramophone [Awards Issue 2011]


LEKEU Violin Sonata. RAVEL Violin Sonatas: in A Read more class="ARIAL12">(posthumous); in G. Tzigane. Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré Alina Ibragimova (vn); Cédric Tiberghien (pn) HYPERION 67820 (79:01)

Violinist Alina Ibragimova draws a slender tone of great purity from her 1738 Pietro Guarneri of Venice violin in Guillaume Lekeu’s Violin Sonata, a sensitive work resembling César Franck’s in its harmonic and melodic design, as well as in its compositional style and the interaction of the instruments (Lekeu dedicated the sonata, as Franck had his a half dozen years earlier, to violinist Eugène Ysaÿe). In the first movement, pianist Cédric Tiberghien makes the piano thunder when necessary, heightening Ibragimova’s already urgent expressivity, which turns out to be no simple matter of Sturm und Drang —the quiet passages, for example, sound hauntingly sensitive. In the second movement, Ibragimova and Tiberghien continue in the vein of those reflective passages, although Lekeu temporarily abandons his continuous harmonic wandering in favor of a simpler and more straightforwardly diatonic manner. Several passages in the finale might have been written by Franck himself, so closely do they resemble gestures in that earlier work. In general, it isn’t only the harmony that shifts back and forth; dynamics ebb and flow in swelling waves, creating strong contrasts over the shifting ground. While in every corner the sonata is very this and very that (with the three movements marked Très modéré, Très lent , and Très animé ), neither instrumentalist pushes its expressivity to the extreme, though they mount to stirring climaxes, and neither indulges personal mannerism at the expense of the music. Reviewing Arthur Grumiaux’s second reading of Lekeu’s Sonata, with Dinorah Varsi, rereleased on Philips Eloquence 8299, Fanfare 31:4 (he had also recorded it with Riccardo Castagnone in 1955), I mentioned that he seemed at home in the work as did Yehudi Menuhin, whose second recording with his sister, Hephzibah, from 1955, reappeared on CD as Biddulph LAB 058. (Christian Ferras also recorded it, in 1965, as did Elmar Oliveira, but otherwise recordings seem to have been scarce.) Ibragimova seems almost equally attuned to the work’s sensibilities, and if she doesn’t sound quite so chaste as Grumiaux does in the opening, the slightly warmer temperature, transmitted by more recent recorded sound, proves an advantage; on the other hand, Tiberghien proves to be a more sensitive and thoughtful—and idiomatic—collaborator than did Varsi.

After the overt emotionality of Lekeu’s sonata, the cooler opening of Maurice Ravel’s posthumous one (he completed only a single movement) sounds almost intellectual and remote, although, taken by itself, the work hardly seems restrained in its rhetoric. And as she did in Lekeu’s sonata, Ibragimova plays here with great tonal warmth, especially on the G string but throughout the entire range as well. The first movement of the later, complete violin sonata crackles almost as dryly in Ibragimova’s and Tiberghien’s performance as it does in Joseph Szigeti’s benchmark though technically and tonally wayward one with Carlo Bussotti from 1953, even though Ibragimova stretches the tempos more frequently. At the ending of the movement, the duo brings the two instruments, which have been pursuing their own several courses, together in an almost magical reunion. Their version of the “Blues” movement doesn’t bump and grind as did Szigeti’s, although they’re consistently playful and Ibragimova indulges in some novel timbral experiments that enhance the effect. Nevertheless, they ultimately arrive at a climax that’s almost as gritty and powerful as Szigeti’s. If anything, Ibragimova is even more bracing in the finale, crisply articulating the pervasive bowing pattern, and her conclusion is equally visceral.

Tzigane embodies the spirit of Gypsy improvisation, and while Ibragimova may not stud the opening cadenza with exaggerations, she conveys a strong sense of improvisatory freedom. The passages climb high on the G string, where it’s hard to maintain a rich timbral quality—but Ibragimova does so, even more effectively than did Jascha Heifetz or Zino Francescatti, to mention two early exponents of the work. If she doesn’t play the theme of the friss with cocky assurance, she’s technically dazzling nonetheless, and creates continuous musical—rather than merely technical—interest (seeming to fuse both, as the work demands); Tiberghien proves himself an equally creative collaborator. The program concludes with Ravel’s simple and slight Berceuse on the name of his teacher, Gabriel Fauré, seeming more sultry in this performance than seemed possible from the more straightforwardly magisterial reading by Nathan Milstein, and Tiberghien makes more out of the piano part than did Leon Pommers.

Everything about the program registers first-rate or better: the vivid recorded sound, the exceptionally perceptive booklet notes by Roger Nichols (which don’t give a typical and tedious blow-by-blow description of the pieces but rather describe in general the composers’ procedures and the way in which they’re exemplified in these works), and, of course, the stunning performances themselves. Recommended with Want List-like urgency.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Alina Ibragimova (Violin), Cédric Tiberghien (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; France 
Sonata Posthume for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Alina Ibragimova (Violin), Cédric Tiberghien (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1897; France 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Alina Ibragimova (Violin), Cédric Tiberghien (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1927; France 
Berceuse sur le nom de Fauré by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Alina Ibragimova (Violin), Cédric Tiberghien (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; France 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major by Guillaume Lekeu
Performer:  Alina Ibragimova (Violin), Cédric Tiberghien (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Belgium 

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