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Hyperion Records

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The Violin (1916) by Juan Gris (1887-1927)
Kunstmuseum, Basel / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67514
Recording details: July 2013
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: July 2014
Total duration: 22 minutes 3 seconds

'From the austere opening bars of the First Violin Sonata, one of Prokofiev’s towering masterpieces, it’s clear that this violin-and-piano duo is capable of the subtlest interplay. Steven Osborne is the lion, or the demon, that needs taming by Alina Ibragimova’s fiddler, dancing—sometimes ever so frailly—on the volcano. There are revelations in the outer movements: never have I heard the violin’s tentative B minor melodising as so much the heart of the preludial Andante assai—it's equal in effect to what Prokofiev described as the 'wind in the graveyard’ rushings which appear at the end of that movement and return so strikingly at the end of the work—and the way the scherzo's abrasive insistence returns in the piano bass of the finale is truly hair-raising' (BBC Music Magazine) » More
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING

'For her new Prokofiev release Ibragimova teams up with Steven Osborne in one of those astute mergers of talent for which Hyperion is well known. Osborne revealed his penchant for Prokofiev last year in the Visions fugitives and Sarcasms that accompanied his compelling, multi-faceted interpretation of Musorgsky’s Pictures from an Exhibition (CDA67896). In the two Prokofiev violin sonatas, his instincts are just as finely honed … performances of depth of perception and strength of character … shifting kaleidoscopes in the piano part and the subtle vocal inflections of the violin' (The Daily Telegraph) » More

'The dark moods of the F minor Sonata … are relished to the full by both musicians: the range of colours and the precision of the rhythmic articulation are two notable features of a performance that grips the listener from start to finish, thanks to its unflinching conviction as well as its consummate skill. It’s a magnificent performance. The D major Sonata (originally written for flute and piano and transcribed at Oistrakh’s request) is even better. The attention to detail, to subtle nuances, is breathtaking, and the overall drive and momentum of the performance results in a reading as fine as any I’ve heard, in sound that is better than most. It’s interesting to compare Ibragimova and Osborne with Kremer and Argerich (DG). While the latter is a magnificent partnership by any standards … I get a feeling of even greater involvement and excitement from the new Hyperion disc … this Prokofiev disc is a triumphant achievement, recommended without reservation' (International Record Review) » More

'Prokofiev's two violin sonatas make a stark juxtaposition. The F minor is a big-boned, dark-hued expression of feeling that can be taken as mourning for the depredations of Soviet terror; the D major is one of those seraphically contented neoclassical excursions that adorn mid-20th-century music. They are played here with an intense-feeling virtuosity, Ibragimova equally magnificent in restraint—as when executing those 'graveyard' scales slipping in during the F minor—and when belting out, say, the second movement of that work, as strongly contrasted with its predecessor as the whole sonata is with its successor' (The Sunday Times) » More

'There is something deeply disturbing, and at the same time uplifting, in the violin music of Sergei Prokofiev. Such extremes are encapsulated in this captivating recording of both Violin Sonatas and the Five Melodies by Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova and Scots pianist Steven Osborne. Their reading of the F minor Violin Sonata combines angst-ridden weight with vigorous spirit and blissful moments of timeless beauty. The Five Melodies offer a deliciously poetic and nuanced transition to the brighter skies of the Sonata No 2, a work transcribed from the Flute Sonata, which this duo present with radiant self-assurance' (The Scotsman) » More

Violin Sonata No 2 in D major, Op 94bis
composer
1944; a transcription made with the assistance of David Oistrakh of the 1943 Op 94 Flute Sonata

Moderato  [7'08]
Scherzo: Presto  [4'22]
Andante  [3'32]
Allegro con brio  [7'01]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Violin Sonata No 2 in D major is of a very different character—generally sunny and carefree, though still with occasional fleeting shadows from the dark world of the First Sonata. In its original form it was a Flute Sonata, Op 94, which Prokofiev had completed in 1943 while in Perm to discuss staging his ballet Cinderella with the evacuated Kirov company. Its themes, according to his biographer Israel Nestyev, were originally sketched before the war, and were inspired by the French flute player Georges Barrère. At David Oistrakh’s suggestion and with his assistance, Prokofiev transcribed this Sonata to create the Second Violin Sonata, Op 94bis.

The opening movement harks back to the neoclassical style of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No 5 of 1923 (which in turn appears to have inspired Poulenc’s Flute Sonata of 1956–7) and of Cinderella. The second movement scherzo is initially light and capricious, but the piano part in particular introduces an increasingly sardonic tone, and the movement does not so much finish as come to an abrupt halt. There are further hints of disquieted emotions in the third movement, which has some thematic material in common with the third movement of Prokofiev’s then not yet completed First Violin Sonata. It also contains a striking passage of bluesy rumination: an admirer of jazz, Prokofiev at one stage held semi-clandestine meetings with fellow aficionados in his Moscow apartment in which he played recordings he had brought back from his foreign tours. Ultimately, though, it ends with an upbeat finale which includes in a central interlude one of Prokofiev’s sweetest melodies (which Poulenc, again, would recall in his Oboe Sonata, dedicated to Prokofiev’s memory).

from notes by Daniel Jaffé © 2014

Other albums featuring this work
'Hyperion monthly sampler – July 2014' (HYP201407)
Hyperion monthly sampler – July 2014
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