By Laurence Vittes
On her dazzling new Hyperion CD, Alina Ibragimova identifies completely with the flow and spirit of Bach’s two standard violin concertos and three reconstructed keyboard concertos. Playing her circa 1775 Anselmo Bellosio violin with casual, 21st-century virtuosity and the confidence of musicological knowledge and experience, Ibragimova’s stylistically ingenious feints and gestures sound like Bach might have written them out himself.
And while the fast movements are wonderfully swift, exhilarating affairs, the slow movements of each of the reconstructions are of particular beauty, each in its own way. In the Larghetto of BWV 1055 in A major, for example, she and lutenist Thomas Dunford entangle themselves in an incomparably fragile duet. The participation of leading-edge historical-instrument ensemble Arcangelo, and its conductor Jonathan Cohen, himself a virtuoso cellist, assures the enterprise’s smooth, authoritative sailing.
Made in Henry Wood Hall, just off London’s Borough High Street, the recording is one of those audiophile jewels that makes the listener feel present in the room with the music and musicians. Richard Wigmore’s detailed liner notes tell a riveting musicological adventure story about Bach and a sparkling cast of figures, including Vivaldi and Prince Leopold.