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Hyperion Records

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Dovedale by Moonlight (c1784/5) by Joseph Wright (1734-1797)
Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio / RT Miller Jr Fund / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67911/2
Recording details: August 2012
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: August 2013
Total duration: 23 minutes 30 seconds

'Beautiful and touching … the performances of the virtuoso Rondo brillant and Fantasie are exhilarating; the Rondo combining lively momentum with a sense of poise and the Fantasie beautifully characterised in all its varied aspects. Especially fine are the episodes in Hungarian style, full of energy and grace, and the barnstorming finale, rivalling the famous 1931 recording of Busch and Serkin' (Gramophone)

'Performances which it is hard to imagine ever being bettered' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Most bewitching of all, and performed with a lightness and poise by this established duo, is the Fantasy in C major, breaking convention at every turn, written in 1827' (The Observer)

'Ibragimova and Tiberghien encompass the music with exhilarating flair … and with a keen stylistic ear' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The three Schubert Sonatinas are each rendered beautifully to scale by both partners … the felicities are of course manifold … Ibragimova and Tiberghien rise admirably to Schubert's late musical and technical challenges. In the aforesaid finale, they really let their hair down and the result is truly exhilarating. The Fantasy is as much a challenge to the pianist as to the violinist: Tiberghien emphatically holds his own!' (International Record Review)

'When Schubert’s melodies send Ibragimova soaring into the skies or when she tosses off filigree decorations she stays at her electrifying best. Try her wonderful high-wire pianissimos during the leisurely C major Fantasy of 1827, the most Schubertian of all the pieces, sweetly dominated by variations on his soulful song setting of the Rückert poem Sei mir gegrüsst!. As for vigour, nothing sets the pulse racing as much as his B minor Rondo, the most assertively rhetorical work here, given a performance powerful enough to stand in for the National Grid. Much to enjoy here' (The Times)

'Ibragimova and Tiberghien play with flair and taste' (The Sunday Times)

'Given the fine track record of violin-piano duo Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien, it’s not surprising to find them completely at home—lyrically poised and intimately dynamic—in Schubert’s four sonatas. But this disc is about the composer’s complete works for violin and piano, and how refreshing it is to have the fiery, often whimsical Rondo in B minor reeled off with such élan; to hear the multi-coloured expansiveness of the four-movement Fantasy in C minor, with all its playful pianism to boot; and Schubert’s delightful miniature transcription of his own song Sei mir gegrüsst!, itself the subject of variations in the Fantasy' (The Scotsman)

Fantasy in C major, D934
composer
December 1827; first performed in January 1828 by Josef Slavík and Karl Maria von Bocklet in Vienna; the third movement is a series of variation on Sei mir gegrüsst!, D741

Allegretto –  [4'48]
Andantino –  [9'29]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In December 1827, shortly after completing the final twelve songs of Winterreise, Schubert composed another work calculated to display Slavík’s virtuoso technique: the Fantasy in C major D934, premiered by the violinist and Bocklet at a Viennese concert in January 1828. From a contemporary review we can glean that the audience was less than enchanted. ‘The Fantasie occupied rather too much of the time a Viennese is prepared to devote to pleasures of the mind. The hall emptied gradually, and the writer confesses that he too is unable to say anything about the conclusion of this piece.’

Original listeners, that Viennese critic included, seem to have been fazed by both the Fantasy’s length and its unusual structure: a series of contrasted, loosely linked sections built around a sequence of variations on a Schubert song. The not-so-slow introduction (Andante molto) opens with the same C major-minor ambiguity as the String Quintet, composed the following autumn. Here the violin cantilena soars above flamboyant figuration in which the piano seems to be aping an orchestral string tremolo. Next comes a delightful, Hungarian-style Allegretto in A minor-major, with the two instruments playing in canon. After some colourful Schubertian modulations, the music works its way to the verge of A flat major for the Fantasy’s long centrepiece: a series of four variations on Schubert’s 1822 setting of Friedrich Rückert’s Sei mir gegrüsst! (‘I greet you!’), whose soulful melody and suave waltz lilt had made it one of his most popular songs.

For its new incarnation Schubert considerably altered the song melody, remembering in the process a phrase from the first movement of Mozart’s A major Sonata, K331 (the one with the Rondo alla turca). The first three variations are bravura showpieces, with shades of Paganini—then all the rage in Vienna—in the prancing, glittering violin figuration; the fourth recreates the song’s original lyricism, drifts towards C major and ushers in a shortened reprise of the introduction. This in turn leads to the Fantasy’s ‘finale’, a swaggering Allegro vivace in Schubert’s best Marche militaire vein (a faint echo here of the Rondeau brillant). A swerve to A flat brings a final reminiscence of Sei mir gegrüsst!, before the march launches a tumultuous send-off that might even have roused that first Viennese critic had he bothered to stay the course.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2013

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