Julian Haylock
BBC Music Magazine
November 2017

Such was Mozart’s creative genius that even when, as here, sonatas composed 17 years apart are juxtaposed against one another, one barely experiences a creative jolt. It also underlines how successfully Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien immerse themselves in Mozart’s earliest published boyhood works as compared to the bracing genius of the music that poured forth during his mid-twenties. Those listeners used to the air of ‘greatness’ and expressive high-projection brought to the later works by Henryk Szeryng (Philips/Decca) and Itzhak Perlman (DG), in their very different ways, may initially feel a shade short-changed. Yet it is the Hyperion team who time and again demonstrate that a more intimate approach works wonders in capturing the essence of these exquisitely melodious and immaculately structured scores.

In the earliest work featured here, K8 in B flat, it feels as though centuries of interpretative accretion has been removed as Ibragimova and Tiberghien take flight in the opening Allegro with a bracing sense of forward momentum that creates the uncanny impression of floating on air. The tricky Minuet finale also goes like a dream, with no self-conscious pointing of the dance rhythms or furrowed-brow introspection when the music turns towards the minor key. By the time he composed the C major Sonata, K403, Mozart was interspersing major and minor modes with infinite more subtlety, and here the exquisite finesse of this cherishable team put them in a class apart.