LEKEU Violin Sonata RAVEL Violin Sonatas Nos 1 & 2
After their splendid Beethoven cycle, Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien turn here to a very different repertoire, demonstrating what a wide range of music they can illuminate with their intelligent, imaginative playing. Much of the ultra-romantic Lekeu Sonata proceeds in a state of elevated emotion, without clear formal signposts. 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, capturing perfectly the deep tranquillity of the central Très lent, with its distinctive seven beats per bar.
The sound world of the 1897 Ravel Sonata – bright and cool – is evoked with equal conviction. Renaud Capuçon and Frank Braley’s performance (Virgin, 4/02) has fuller tone and more of a romantic sweep but I find the Ibragimova/Tiberghien account more compelling in its care for expressive detail, hinting at moods of gentle nostalgia and emotional fragility. There’s a similar contrast between the two teams in the G major Sonata – Braley and Capuçon more robust, with more strongly projected sound, Ibragimova and Tiberghien more delicate and intimate. In the “Blues” movement, this produces startling results; the details are wonderfully idiomatic, yet the playing is initially so refined that when the music later breaks out of its shell, the contrast is extraordinary. It’s like a strange, distorted dream of a jazz performance. The effect of Tzigane is similar; precision in capturing the idiom, allied to vivid juxtapositions of power and delicacy. It all adds up to a must-hear recital.