Hartmann: Concerto funebre; Suites for Solo Violin Nos 1 & 2; Sonatas for Solo Violin Nos 1 & 2

COMPOSERS: Hartmann
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Hartmann
WORKS: Concerto funebre; Suites for Solo Violin Nos 1 & 2; Sonatas for Solo Violin Nos 1 & 2
PERFORMER: Alina Ibragimova (violin); Britten Sinfonia
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67547
Almost, it seems, by stealth the Concerto funebre for violin and strings has established itself as Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s most familiar work, and perhaps his best hope for a permanent place in the central canon of 20th-century German music. Commercial recordings of the Concerto now run comfortably into double figures, and Alina Ibragimova’s account with the Britten Sinfonia, her debut disc for Hyperion, ranks with the best of them. Even if it does not quite dig as deeply into the music’s elegiaic core as Thomas Zehetmair’s performance, currently available at budget price, the way in which the Britten Sinfonia support and enfold their young soloist’s beautifully nuanced and textured playing is a model of close-knit ensemble playing, and the natural, detailed sound picture captures all of that give and take.

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Ibragimova couples the Concerto with the far less recorded Sonatas and Suites for solo violin, which Hartmann composed in 1927 while he was still studying with Josef Haas in Munich. They hardly sound like student efforts though, and they are among the earliest works that he preserved, from a time when he was very much indebted to the neoclassicism of Hindemith. Bach, of course, was another model, and Ibragimova’s performances expertly tease out the intricacies of Hartmann’s frequently contrapuntal writing, never fazed by the considerable technical challenges. Whether there is a more intense current of sentiment lurking beneath the brilliant surfaces is hard to say, though the crispness and clarity of the playing are a delight

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in themselves. Andrew Clements