Regular readers know that I’m a fanboy of some violin players, notably Rachel Podger (see last weeks post on her Four Seasons, and several others, e.g. this one) and Isabelle Faust (see for example here and here).
Since this year, I have to add a third name to that list, Alina Ibragimova. I’ve seen her live earlier this year playing French chamber music, and was blown away.
The real reason why I haven’t heard more of her is quite simple: Hyperion doesn’t allow streaming. Given that having access to a great streaming service is now my number one source for new music discovery, and how much new music there is to discover, it’s just hard to buy stuff blindly these days.
Plus, on the Bach violin concertos in question, I really had more than enough choice already in my library (just checked, 15 versions of BWV1041), not to mention the hundreds of versions available via streaming. And there is great stuff like above mentioned Rachel Podger, Julia Fischer, Janine Jansen, Giuliano Carmignola, just to mention a few.
So the hurdles for buying this were high. But I’m very glad that today I clicked on “Buy” on the Hyperion website this weekend and added version number 16 to my library.
Bach: Violin Concertos – Alina Ibragimova – Jonathan Cohen – Arcangelo (Hyperion 2015)
So, this version immediately rises to the top of my recommendations.
Before I talk about the soloist, let me first spend some words on the excellent orchestra. Given it’s young age, it was founded in 2010 by Jonathan Cohen, it is not yet as well known as for example Les Arts Florissants or other historically informed ensembles.
However, it immediately becomes audible that this really is a world class ensemble. They play with both precision and joy, and really are essential in making this album so enjoyable.
Now to Ibragimova. She keeps things very simple. Very little vibrato (HIP obliging), but even beyond that, she keeps everything very transparent and clear. To my ears, this is exactly what this music needs, it is of such an outstanding beauty (take for example the adagio of BWV 1042) that really there is nothing that needs to be added. It is just blowing you away by the sheer power of the music.
I think I have to return to Hyperion’s website (link below) more often. Ibragmova’s Mozart sonatas just received fantastic reviews, and I’ll need to see how they compare to my favorite version with, again, Rachel Podger (see here).
My rating: 5 stars
P.S. I know I’ve been reviewing a lot of baroque music recently, I promise a bit more diversity going forward