It may be a heretical view – especially in Ludwig van’s 250th anniversary year – but allow me to confess: the thought of a violin recital programme pairing Beethoven with Schubert had not set my pulse racing. (No, not even under lockdown, starved of live music as we all are.) Surely there are more varied, more imaginative ways to perform for an hour? But apparently not – at least in the case of Alina Ibragimova’s Wigmore Hall recital with pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout.
It’s difficult to imagine a more complementary match. Ibragimova rejoiced in muscular attack, her gloriously polished tone frontloaded with energy, while Bezuidenhout was more laid-back, his touch delicate, his unerring sense of musical line delivered absolutely fuss-free. Schubert’s Sonatina in A minor, D385 showcased their combined capacity to make new musical sense of conventional gestures – and to find contrast within apparent sameness. Thus the subtle transitions from hyper-Romantic juxtapositions of biting articulation and barely perceptible pianissimos via a twinkle-in-the-eye minuet to a finale in which Bezuidenhout’s left hand was so finely delineated (imagine the walking bass of a jazz standard) that at one point he bopped along on the piano stool.
Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No 5 in F major, “Spring”, Op 24 revealed a whole new set of colours. Ibragimova’s articulation was at times highly textured, elsewhere spun out into legato stretching far into the distance. Bezuidenhout’s playing was always limpid – indeed the entire first movement was impossibly gracious – but he was also the fleet-fingered ringleader of the scherzo’s rhythmic games. Full of light and life, this was music-making held in almost miraculous balance: a reminder of how even the most familiar repertoire can be lifted from the page and fashioned anew.
• Available to listen on BBC Sounds and watch via Wigmore Hall Live Stream. The Wigmore Hall’s lunchtime series continues until 26 June.