MOZART: Violin Sonatas, Vol. 5 – Alina Ibragimova, Cédric Tiberghien – Hyperion

MOZART: Violin Sonatas, Vol. 5 – Cedric Tiberghien, piano/ Alina Ibragimova, violin – Hyperion CDA68175 (2 CDs), 120:48 ****:

This is the fifth and final installment in what just might be the finest modern interpretation of the Mozart Violin Sonatas. As in the other four volumes, there is a mixture of early, middle, and late pieces that give a fine indication, no matter which volume you sample, of the progress the composer made from his first thoughts to his more mature years. What is noticeable from the beginning is how adventurous even the early sonatas are, especially for a boy of only nine, though already a world traveler, and familiar with the great cities of the world.

Portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart

The violin sonatas are among his first published compositions, but much of the middle period efforts revolve around the impressions made on him by the famous Mannheim Court Orchestra. Mozart had a difficult time in this city; ultimately the seat of power moved to Munich, frustrating him and his father Leopold’s efforts at obtaining, if not a permanent position, some important commissions. But by this time the “wunderkind” effect had worn off many of his previous supporters, and the new, mature 20-year-old had a much tougher time curbing his tongue and playing the proper political tone, while Leopold’s constant haggling got on the nerves of those who were able to help. Nevertheless, the music, nearly always divorced from the actual circumstances of the composer’s life, reflected a tremendous growth and insatiable ability to absorb all sorts of influences.

By the time the 500 K series are reached, we are dealing with absolute masterpieces of the highest kind. And the strange thing is this—even with these sonatas side by side, from very early to very late, the Mozartian muse remains undisturbed. There is no jarring effect as we traverse through the development of the master’s thoughts throughout his life. Part of this is no doubt due to the effervescent and radiant playing of the Tiberghien / Ibragimova partnership, which shows a conceptualization of emotion and technique completely in harmony. These are, fortunately, not period performances, though they are anything but throwbacks. Modern, yes, in great sound, and played with all the passion needed to fully present the music in its most authentic manner, if you don’t have these in your collection, now is the time to start!

—Steven Ritter

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