Julian Haylock
BBC Music Magazine
May 2018

This revelatory series from Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien benefits from offsetting works of Mozart’s middle-period and maturity with some of his earliest compositions. One of the joys of this set, expertly played and annotated (by Misha Donat), is the way these outstanding artists subtly shade the two early sonatas of 1764, fully endorsing Mozart’s original instruction that they ‘can be played with the accompaniment of a violin or transverse flute’. Accordingly, Ibragimova moves in and out of the textures as though applying deft touches of colour and shading to Tiberghien’s musical canvas. Both players keep everything perfectly in scale, voicing the eight-year-old genius’s inspiration with a poetic radiance that captures the ingenuous mood to perfection.

K302 in E flat major (1778) combines thematic intensity—complete with pseudo-orchestral skyrocket crescendos over a recurring figuration—with a heart-warming lyrical glow. Tiberghien shapes Mozart’s sighing figurations and passing chromaticisms with a lilting temporal sensitivity, while Ibragimova uses vibrato sparingly, preferring to colour her tone with micro-inflected bow strokes of infinite subtlety. Their combined musical imagination feels so intertwined that it emerges seemingly as the natural extension of a single interpretative personality.

This sense of gentle ecstatic communion is nowhere more acutely sensed than in the sonata many consider the finest of the series: K526 in A major of August 1787. Once again, so keenly attuned are Tiberghien and Ibragimova to each other’s musical proclivities, that at the point of contact it is difficult to imagine this score being played any other way.