Sonatas for Piano and Violin:
in F, Op.24 (Spring)
in A, Op.12/2
in G, Op.96
Alina Ibragimova (violin) & Cedric Tiberghien (piano)
Reviewed by: Peter Reed
Reviewed: 23 February, 2010
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
Her partner in these works composed for piano and violin ensured that we took Beethoven’s point about equal musical opportunities. Cédric Tiberghien’s playing never failed to impress – connective, in general not so contained as Ibragimova, and inside the music to a degree that made the listener realise how the printed notes are only an approximation of what Beethoven was trying to express.
To hear how he subtly redefined Ibragimova’s other-worldly opening of the ‘Spring’ Sonata, almost subliminally suggesting more solid, Brahmsian possibilities of size and lyricism, set a standard of performance and communication that never faltered, and the two players continued to blur and stretch the boundaries of leadership in a benign, discursive dialogue that was fresh, natural and immensely satisfying. In the wonderful Adagio, Ibragimova proved once again that the best way to get people to listen is to speak quietly, and she conjured up a sustained, disembodied sound that served Beethoven’s romantic dreamscape beautifully.
The two players also had the measure of the gentle high spirits and extrovert charm of the second of the Opus 12 set, Beethoven more Beethovenian here in Opus 12 than in the more Haydnesque Opus 18 string quartets, but, in the first movement in particular, with no lack of subversive wit and deceptively sly self-effacement.
It’s quite a long way from the long phrases of the ‘Spring’ to the tighter, more elevated world of Opus 96, the last of the ten, and Ibragimova and Tiberghien tailored their performance accordingly, the distinction between solo and accompaniment even more diffuse, and expressed in playing of rare and non-histrionic refinement, a masterly partnership of yielding and assertion. The violin’s retreat into the velvety calm of the Adagio was unforgettable, and the slow variation in the finale, briefly marooning the music in a parallel universe, was a reminder, if one is needed, of Beethoven’s astonishing and consistent originality.
That, in the end, was what these two remarkable players gave us – the multi-faceted freshness of the music. So it’s just as well that all three recitals are being released on the Wigmore Hall Live label.
- The final recital is on May 25
- Wigmore Hall