Hartmann Concerto funebre
It is such an obvious idea to combine Hartmann’s Concerto funebre (1939, rev 1959) with the four unaccompanied works from 1927 that I am surprised no company has thought of it before now. The Suites and Sonatas are not well known, not even being performed until the mid-1980s, although Ingolf Turban’s Claves recording appeared in 1995. Hartmann composed them while still a student with his mature style some years away, yet their muscularity, contrapuntal and harmonic élan and the sense of self-belief they exude show them to be products of a formidable, free-thinking creator. Ibragimova proves an ideal exponent, her tempi freer and more elastic (and mostly quicker) than Turban’s. His more rigid approach gives him an occasional edge, for instance in the First Suite’s Canon or the opening Toccata of Sonata No 1, but Ibragimova’s greater fluency and flexibility pay greater dividends time and again, as in the First Suite’s central Rondo or concluding Ciaconna or the Second Suite’s second span, Fliessend. Hyperion’s natural sound-picture is also preferable to Claves’ rather close-miked recording.
Hard on the heels of Orfeo’s marvellous mid-price issue of Schneiderhan’s gripping performance of the Concerto funebre, Ibragimova’s fiercely clear-eyed account – alive to the music’s expressive demands as well as its dynamic markings (some of which Schneiderhan and Gertler are less scrupulous with) – faces stiff competition but need not fear comparison with any of the dozen or so rival accounts. Her technique is formidable to say the least and if I still marginally prefer Faust, Ibragimova is on her shoulder having surpassed Zehetmair, although Hyperion’s couplings and recording quality, to say nothing of the excellent Britten Sinfonia, deserve a share in the plaudits. Recommended.