Prokofiev’s Sonatas for Violin & Piano and Five Melodies – Alina Ibragimova & Steven Osborne [Hyperion]

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Sonata No.1 in F minor for Violin and Piano, Op.80
Sonata No.2 in D for Violin and Piano, Op.94a
Five Melodies, Op.35a

Alina Ibragimova (violin) & Steven Osborne (piano)

Recorded 11-15 July 2013 in Henry Wood Hall, London

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: July 2014
Duration: 61 minutes



Prokofiev’s Violin Sonatas are very different works. The earlier of the two begins with ominous pealing from the bass of the piano, the violin entering with an eerie and acerbic contribution. This arresting, spooky opening develops to the composer’s descriptive “like the wind in a graveyard” for the sinister scales that enter just before the movement closes, brought off with slithery delicacy by Alina Ibragimova and with enchanted bell-like sounds from Steven Osborne. Theirs is a notable partnership, spotlighted in a reveal-all, properly ‘duo’ recording. The second movement is curt and percussive, the violin stressing at a melody amidst a powerful outpouring, following which the third-movement Andante is more ethereal, inviting the listener to an otherworldly place, of nominal calm, but there’s an edge, too, something lurking in the shadows. The finale, like the second movement, is fast and forceful, if more skittish, a tour de force for the musicians, straining every sinew, before the doleful conclusion and the return to the cemetery. To listeners to whom this music might be considered “difficult” (and the composer thought so too), then this performance may well open more doors onto the piece than hitherto.

The Second Violin Sonata, by contrast, is more classical, even extending to an exposition repeat in the first movement (observed, and played with affection), music that is elegant and untroubled if a little fantastical. Such unpredictability forms a backdrop to the work as a whole, whether the spiky if playful scherzo, nifty and precise here, the touchingly lyrical Andante and the confident if striving finale, a rarefied tune introduced halfway through. Like the D major Sonata (originally for flute and piano), the Five Melodies are also transcribed, this time from female-voice and piano originals. Each is a miniature with a heightened expressive content, suggestive, sultry and picturesque, the central piece opening with a passionate outburst, the next one attractively laidback, the finale akin to the setting of the sun.

These impressive, interactive and insightful accounts of music associated with David Oistrakh make for a welcome and important addition to the Prokofiev catalogue.

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