Violinist Alina Ibragimova and her accompanist Cédric Tiberghien are a class act—witness their 2013 album of Schubert’s complete works for violin and piano, also on Hyperion—but this set of seven very early Mozart violin sonatas, written in between nappy changes presumably, rarely rise beyond the level of a composer expertly, and rather dogmatically, applying the rules who has yet to grasp that the whole point of composing is to put those same rules under the microscope with a view to learning how to make them bend.
Still, Ibragimova and Tiberghien couldn’t turn in a lacklustre performance if they tried, and after experiencing this fine duo tackling Schubert, hearing them weave a degree of wonder through such low key material fills me with even greater respect for their interpretive clout. They tread a finely judged line between keeping alert to young whippersnapper Wolfgang’s harmonic language, while avoiding their knowledge of his later harmonic wizardry lest it (mis)inform the naïveté of this music. Ibragimova plays with childlike wonder—but there’s never a trace of sentimentalised whimsy.
Sprawling over two discs, here is a lot of Mozart, much of it interchangeable. For my money Sonata No 27 in G, K379, sticks in the memory where others tick boxes. Ibragimova and Tiberghien clearly enjoy the variations that comprise Mozart’s Finale, the spry toy-box mechanics of the theme balanced against more pensive moments. The set has been brightly recorded and Mozartians are in for a treat—even as the rest of us listen in installments.