Szymanowski: Violin Sonata; Mythes; Three Paganini Caprices etc

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COMPOSERS: Szymanowksi
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Violin Sonata; Mythes, Op. 30; Three Paganini Caprices; Nocturne and Tarantella; Romance in D; Le Berceuse d’Aïtacho Enia
PERFORMER: Alina Ibragimova (violin), Cédric Tiberghien (piano)


The Polish composer Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) has long stood outside the mainstream of 20th-century music, and it’s tempting to claim – especially in the light of a veritable outpouring of new recordings – that his music is at last getting the recognition it deserves.

Much of his work is about colour, and he is certainly admired most for his lush orchestral soundscapes; equally, it is a certain overripe quality on to which his detractors tend to latch.

His piano music and songs are becoming widely known, and only the chamber music is lagging behind: perhaps that is because potential listeners don’t expect to find much colour there.

But that would be to reckon without a work like the Nocturne and Tarantella, which opens this new release of complete music for violin and piano, or the passionate playing that Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien bring.

It opens mysteriously with piano ruminating down below while the violin traces a delicate, silvery line. Even before they reach the Tarantella, the players are called on switch into fiery mode, and this is a performance that shows Ibragimova’s art at her remarkable best; at one moment poised, the next playing with abandon, she is one of the most expressive violinists around.

Ibragimova’s authority is evident throughout, from the three languorous Mythes – vintage Szymanowski, yet still showing the influence of French musical impressionism – to the earlier and more conventional Sonata.


The beguiling Three Paganini Caprices end with variations on that tune (composed 16 years before Rachmaninov’s treatment), and give both players a chance for virtuosic display. John Allison