LSO/Nathalie Stutzmann – Ravel & Tchaikovsky – Alina Ibragimova plays Mozart

Le tombeau de Couperin
Violin Concerto in A, K219
Symphony No.5 in E-minor, Op.64

Alina Ibragimova (violin)
London Symphony Orchestra
Nathalie Stutzmann

Reviewed by: Alexander Campbell

Reviewed: 27 January, 2022
Venue: Barbican Hall, London

Great to be part of a well-filled auditorium. And what a performance of the Concerto it was. Entering in a flame-red dress Alina Ibragimova exuded seriousness of purpose and collaborative flair from the start, relishing the abrupt changes of mood, tempo and thematic inspiration in each of the movements but always with a winning smile at every ‘surprise’. Her dazzling technique and sense of melodic line, particularly in the instrument’s upper ranges, were prominent; her ability to spin out the quietest whispers of sound astonishing. The cadenza-like moments felt conversational – as two instruments in earnest discussion – and then, with a sense of inevitability, the doors were opened widely and the other players were let in to support the debate. The whole had a rhythmic vitality that was very infectious, with Nathalie Stutzmann leading sensitive responses from her players in retort to all the musical ideas tumbling out.

Stutzmann’s conducting is fascinating. As a singer she thinks in long musical phrases and of controlling the breath accordingly and this is replicated in her conducting style – her left hand is extraordinarily expressive in its indications of dynamic precision and minute changes of pace. The Ravel was full of airy textures and all the Baroque and Classical allusions were deftly coloured in by the players.

The same was true of the Tchaikovsky, taken at a brisk lick throughout, with a refreshing lack of over-romanticisation and great subtlety at times. Stunning playing by all the principals. It felt like viewing a beloved painting after a very thorough and precise renovation process – familiar and yet with colours seemingly intensified – and therein lay the emotion.

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