MOZART: Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin, Volume 4 – Alina Ibragimova (violin)/ Cédric Tiberghien (piano) – Hyperion 

MOZART: Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin, Volume 4 – Alina Ibragimova (violin)/ Cédric Tiberghien (piano) – Hyperion CDA 68164 [2 CDs], 119:17 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:

A tempting collection of an ongoing series.

It’s a little strange that we received the video of Mozart’s String Quintets by Ibragimova and company, yet not one of her sonatas discs—of which this is volume four already. Better late than never, especially when the performances are so ingratiating. Mozart’s Violin Sonatas dotted his career starting at about age eight, when the pieces were solely conceived as piano works with optional violin part. By the time we get to the final sonatas much has changed, though one does get the distinct feeling that the composer never let go of the piano-predominates philosophy. Nevertheless, discernable democracy does indeed creep into this unique Mozartian genre, and it is really heartening to see that Ibragimova—and Hyperion—are willing to release a “complete” series on modern instruments.

These sonatas do not appear that frequently on professional recitals anymore—time was, they did. But the more exciting Beethoven seem to usurp any efforts the back-seated composer came up with, with the exception of college and conservatory performances, and even used primarily as pedagogical material. This is a loss for modern ears, as even the more esoteric sonatas have much to offer a society that has trouble sitting still and concentrating. These pieces, from first to last, are vigorously constructed, melodically alluring, and an absolute balm for the ear.

Alina Ibragimova and partner Cédric Tiberghien are simply radiant in their conception of these works, easily translating conception into realizations that are at once brilliant, subdued, and exquisitely rendered. The sound is terrific, making this one of the best recordings of these pieces I have heard in a long, long time. I can’t testify to the quality of the first three sets, but if they are even close to this one—and there isn’t much reason to assume otherwise—we could have a landmark series.

Violin Sonata No. 26 in B flat major, K378
No. 11 in Eb major, KV26
No. 13 in C, K28
No. 8 in F major, K13
No. 20 in C major, K303
Six Variations in G minor on ‘Hélas, j’ai perdu mon amant’, K360
No. 3 in B flat major, K8
No. 25 in F major, K377
No. 30 in C major, K403 arr. Maximilian Stadler

—Steven Ritter

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