Reviewed from BBC iPlayer... A relentless series of cancelled trains meant I missed Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien at Wigmore Hall in person and as planned; but even digitised, Ibragimova’s fiddle-playing was so tonally gorgeous that it must have been a joy in the real acoustic.
Ibragimova and Tiberghien built their programme rather oddly if persuasively around an absent piece: César Franck’s Violin Sonata, with which they are currently touring, but which wasn’t played here.
They opened with the Poème élégiaque by the Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931), dedicatee of the Franck. Here Ibragimova was rich, lyrical, and almost vocal at times, with great contrasts of tone matching perfectly the musical moment. Tiberghien’s piano was largely in the background (as broadcast), but an ever-present in underpinning the violinist, occasionally popping to the fore with a few telling notes.
Following the quarter-hour Ysaÿe, the bulk of the recital came from the Violin Sonata by Louis Vierne, a pupil of Franck and near-contemporary of Ysaÿe. Vierne is best-known for his organ music but this is a thoroughly idiomatic piece, at times somewhat Debussy-like.
Again it was the sheer physical loveliness of Ibragimova’s violin which carried the work, supported throughout by Tiberghien; and if Vierne’s dramas are perhaps a tiny bit polite, there was rawer, yearning emotion on display in the Nocturne by Lili Boulanger which the pair played as an encore. She was a pupil of Vierne and therefore a grand-pupil, as it were, of Franck – completing the intriguing circle around that unplayed piece.