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 Recording of the Week  Fliter and Ibragimova excel in Beethoven

I’m quite excited this week as two of my favourite musicians at the moment have made new Beethoven recordings and, having now listened to them I can report that they are both absolutely terrific and everything I was hoping them to be.

Ingrid Fliter
Ingrid Fliter

Firstly a disc of three of the most passionate and popular Piano Sonatas played by Argentinean pianist Ingrid Fliter: the ‘Pathétique’, the ‘Tempest’ and the ‘Appassionata’. Fliter won the much-coveted Gilmore Award back in 2006 and almost overnight this launched her from near-obscurity into a major international career. Since then her reputation has been steadily building, and has included a fabulous Chopin disc which you may remember I wrote enthusiastically about in one of these newsletters a few years ago (Presto News – 31st March 2008).

Her new Beethoven disc demonstrates not just her fabulous technique and wonderful piano sound but also a deep musicality and profound understanding of this music. She has a remarkably wide dynamic range with the fortes typically powerful and rich and the pianos beautiful and tender. But beyond this she is able to create moods and characters the like of which I don’t think I have ever heard before and some of the more tender moments in the slow movements have a fragility that is simply spine-tingling. These are incredibly moving performances and I don’t care if you already have fifty recordings already of these Sonatas, you won't regret buying this one.

My other top Beethoven recommendation this week comes from Russian born violinist Alina Ibragimova with French pianist Cédric Tiberghien. As a duo they have been playing together for many years now as is clearly evident by the wonderful rapport and understanding they enjoy throughout this third and final volume of their complete Violin Sonata cycle.

Cédric Tiberghien and Alina Ibragimova
Cédric Tiberghien and Alina Ibragimova

The first two volumes have received almost unanimous critical acclaim, garnering a large number of five-star reviews and ‘Editors Choice’ awards. As the Guardian wrote in response to Volume 2:

“Ibragimova and Tiberghien are a wonderfully matched pairing, with her astonishing command of tone colour and articulation complemented by his rhythmic alertness and lightness of touch.”

This final volume features Sonatas Nos. 3, 6 and 9. The latter is better known as the ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata and is undoubtedly Beethoven’s biggest and most challenging sonata, lasting nearly forty minutes and ranging in style from furious to joyful and anguished to meditative. Throughout this disc Ibragimova and Tiberghien pay very careful attention to Beethoven’s meticulous expression markings yet never sound in any way contrived or over cultivated. In fact quite the opposite – these performances are marked by an apparent freshness and spontaneity which is so wonderful to hear. These are live performances yet Ibragimova intonation is very rarely anything but spot on, while her tone and bow control are equally remarkable. Tiberghien adds real rhythmic fire and drive in the faster movements and is alert to nuances and subtleties of phrasing throughout.

This disc brings to a conclusion a Beethoven Violin Sonata cycle which will go very near to the top of the pile and will form a prized part of anyone’s CD collection.

There is more information on both these discs via the links below. The Ibragimova and Tiberghien disc is out today, the Ingrid Fliter is released next week.

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 17 & 23

Ingrid Fliter (piano)

Available Formats: MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Volume 3

Alina Ibragimova (violin) & Cédric Tiberghien (piano)

Available Format: CD