Ravel: Complete music for viola and piano

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COMPOSERS: Lekeu,Ravel
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Ravel Violin Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Tzigane; Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré; Lekeu: Violin Sonata in G
PERFORMER: Alina Ibragimova (violin), Cédric Tiberghien
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67820

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While this is understandably billed as Ravel’s complete music for violin and piano, a relative rarity fills nearly half the disc. Lekeu’s Violin Sonata gives a tantalising glimpse of an assured creative voice cut short before it had fully developed, for he died in 1894, the day after his 24th birthday. It’s an impassioned work, imbued with the spirit of pieces from the golden period of Lekeu’s revered teacher, Franck. Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien are utterly convincing advocates, matching the ebb and flow of this work’s intense and slow-burning passion.

Like Lekeu with his Sonata, Ravel was 22 when he wrote the first movement of his Violin Sonata. The work, which was published long after his death, shows a young composer in the process of honing his craft, though his harmonic freshness is already apparent. Here, as in the acknowledged G major Sonata from a quarter century later, Ibragimova charms with more than limpid tone. Whether it is the willingness to sound dirty in the ‘blues’, or the hushed caresses in the heart of the posthumous Sonata, it is clear she is under the skin of this music.

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Moreover, there is a deep partnership with Tiberghien, who has an unruffled insouciance throughout the Ravel pieces. When pressing hard, Ibragimova’s sound can become a little husky, though this often is in keeping with the music’s spirit, especially in the Tzigane. The Berceuse makes a beautiful conclusion. Christopher Dingle