Alina Ibragimova has a wide-ranging concert repertoire of Baroque, Classical and Contemporary works. Interestingly though, her recordings to date are of rarely-performed twentieth century repertoire: her previous CDs for Hyperion have been concerti by Hartmann and Roslavets. It's been a smart move. She has produced discs worth having for their musical and historical interest, whilst the freshness of the repertoire sets off her extraordinary technique and powers of expression in glorious audio technicolour.
Polish composer Karol Szymanowski was born in 1882 and died in 1937. As Ibragimova's latest disc demonstrates, his early music is influenced by the likes of Scriabin, Wagner and Reger. As time goes on, other influences creep in such as Sufism, the Orient and musical Impressionism, with dance rhythms a pre-occupation throughout his life. Ibragimova's programme, although not in date order, is fascinating for its demonstration of this musical journey. The former influences pop up in the Opus 9 Violin Sonata in D minor of 1904. By Mythes (Op 30) of 1915, the Orient is well and truly at the forefront of his musical thought. Fast forward a further ten years to the Op.52 Berceuse of 1925 and, whilst similar influences are at work, they're presented more starkly, set within an unsettling tonality that creates an air of unease.
What is immediately striking about Ibragimova's playing is her formidable technique. The outer two movements of Mythes are particularly demanding for the violinist, jam-packed as they are with glissandi, double stops and lightening melodic runs. Ibragimova glides through them as though she were playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, with plenty of headspace left over to suffuse the melodic lines with spark, fire, and sweet warmth. Technical prowess aside, it's these other qualities that she brings to the music that are what give her performances of the Tarantella its zest and the Romance in D its lyricism. Cédric Tiberghien, a concert soloist in his own right, accompanies Ibragimova in an intuitive and expressive reading of both the music and the required relationship between the instruments.