MOZART Violin Sonatas (Ibragimova & Tiberghien)
Scarcely a note of adverse criticism has attended the three previous issues in this delightful series of accompanied sonatas from Cédric Tiberghien and Alina Ibragimova (5/16, 10/16, 4/17), and that situation’s not about to change now. To describe these performances as ‘perfect’ could be considered glib; but there is a specific ‘rightness’ to just about everything you hear. The playing – well, that can be taken for granted from these musicians. But there’s more to these pieces than just getting the notes right. There’s a lot of repetition, especially in the earlier works and in the various variations (those in the sonatas as well as the big set on disc 1), and the temptation could be to go to town with the ornamentation. Ibragimova and Tiberghien are more subtle than that, inflecting the reprises ever so slightly with a little distension of tempo or flash of vibrato, almost as if playing through the second time with an eyebrow quizzically raised.
Then there’s the balance. Reviewers must be fed up rehearsing the fact that these are sonatas for piano with violin accompaniment; readers too, I’m sure, barely need reminding. But here, performers and engineers alike have made sure that the one instrument doesn’t swamp or outshine the other, and that neither is unduly spotlit. It all sounds and feels utterly natural.
Others may question the need to include all the earliest works, juvenilia even by Mozart’s prodigious standards. Ibragimova and Tiberghien, however, play them with all the seriousness of purpose that they lavish on the later, greater works. Thereby, nothing seems out of place or included simply for spurious reasons of completeness. Each disc is bookended with a ‘big’ work (including K403, left unfinished but filled in by Mozart’s musical executor Maximilian Stadler, and the wild two-movement K303); in between come the earlier works and the G minor Variations. The whole enterprise is near-impossible to fault. Six sonatas left now to complete the cycle, a set that will surely become the modern reference recording.