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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Sonatas for keyboard and violin
Sonata in F major K376 (1781) [18:50]
Sonata in B flat major K15 (1764) [9:47]
Sonata in A major K402 (1782) [10:16]
Sonata in C major K6 (1762/3) [12:35]
Sonata in D major K29 (1766) [6:38]
Sonata in G major K9 (1764) [15:02]
Sonata in D major K7 (1764) [10:48]
Sonata in A major K305 (1778) [15:08]
Alina Ibragimova (violin)
CÚdric Tiberghein (piano)
rec. 29-31 January 2015, Wyastone Concert Hall, Monmouth
HYPERION CDA68092 [51:30 + 47:38]

This release follows on from the first volume reviewed by Curtis Rogers, who enjoyed the recording without finding it ‘the last word’ in Mozart’s sonatas for piano and violin. I’m approaching this second volume with fresh ears, but with its alert musicality and general sense of joyous music making ringing in my ears I am very much minded to add the other releases in this edition to my ‘want’ list.

This programme takes us from early works from Mozart’s time touring Europe with his family between 1763 to 1766 to the final sonata K402 that was incomplete at the time of Mozart’s death though not as a result of it – apparently numerous works of its time were left in this way, in this case being completed by Maximilian Stadler. This and K6 are placed next to each other on CD 1, and it is fascinating to hear the noble reserve and piano-heavy fugal experimentation of the later work against the busy enthusiasm of the youngest. Each sonata is given its own interesting context and some technical detail in Misha Donat’s excellent booklet notes.

Hyperion’s recording is detailed, but also warm and welcoming – that Wyastone Concert Hall acoustic already a proven venue for chamber music through innumerable recordings. One comparison I have to hand is that on Deutsche Grammophon with Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis (review) which is still a very attractive set. Mutter’s vibrato is reasonably restrained, though she does often use it at the ends of phrases in a way which retains intensity where intensity perhaps needs to dissipate. Just listening to the opening Allegro of K376 you can hear where Mutter seeks out and exploits a greater sense of drama than Alina Ibragimova. Which you will prefer depends on your own tastes, but for a long-term relationship I think my hat goes in for Ibragimova – not that Mutter’s performances aren’t tremendously good, but I prefer to allow the drama in Mozart’s music to form its images in the mind rather than with too much perceived effort from the podium. These are two equally valid approaches to expression and I’m glad to be aware of both, but Mozart’s particular idiom seems less in need of the greater rubato and wringing of hands that Mutter can seem to create. Compare the lightness and disarming simplicity of Ibragimova’s Andante in this sonata to the more adagio approach taken by Mutter, and her rather intrusive vibrato in the skipping notes of the final Rondeau. This seems to be seeking for depths where they are not really there for the taking. If you have to shake the tree that hard then those apples aren’t ripe enough for the picking, and Ibragimova gives them just the right amount of extra rustic flavour in those little ornaments and double-stop features – an entertainment in dappled shade rather than some penetration of the artistic psyche.

Brevity of duration is not a concern with these discs as this is one of Hyperion’s ‘two for the price of one’ sets. In short, I think this is a superbly poised and wonderfully characterful collection of performances and again, it makes me enthusiastic about acquiring the whole set. I’m not sure there can be a much higher recommendation than that.

Dominy Clements



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