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There are two ways to write about this: one as if by John Le Carré, the other as if the stories behind the music and the performers do not matter. Neither would do them justice. How can the political torment of Russia and the personal turmoil it has caused be leftout? It is all there in the agony of the first concerto’s long opening Nocturne, the raucous Scherzo (a harsh Russian joke that requires just as much virtuosity from the orchestra as the soloist, notably here first bassoon, Aleksander Pulenkov) and desperate pleading of the Passacaglia. This is the first recording of the original version, which gives the soloist no break between the cadenza and finale, between privacy and public riot. The second concerto, from 20 years later, is less fraught but no less intense.

At 35, Ibragimova must be among the greatest violinists living. Along with her superb modern sound she has the extra range of a fine Baroque technique player. This is a huge advantage in the taut reflection of the second concerto, which is mostly an accompanied aria. Jurowski and his RSASO are ideal partners. They feel this music deeply and play flawlessly (there’s some truly superb horn work). I cannot recommend this too highly.

Simon Mundy Read the full review on Agora Classica

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