The Russian-born violinist Alina Ibragimova in recent years has developed a following in Europe, especially in the U.K., where she studied and came of age. She appears poised to have a bigger following in New York, too, after her recent performances at the Mostly Mozart Festival and in the studio at WQXR. She came to the WQXR performance studio to present two pieces, starting with Eugène Ysaÿe's Sonata No. 3. Watch the video below and listen to the full segment at the top of this page.
This past June, Ibragimova, 29, released a recording of Ysaÿe's six violin sonatas, known as some of the most treacherous solo works in the repertoire. They are portraits, of a sort, of six violinists whom the composer knew in the 1920s: Joseph Szigeti, Jacques Thibaud, Georges Enescu, Fritz Kreisler, Mathieu Crickboom and Manual Quiroga. "You hear the personalities," said Ibragimova. "They feel like proper little dedications."
Ibragimova arrived at the station early one August morning after having performed a late-night (10 pm) recital at Lincoln Center's Kaplan Penthouse—one of at least two such performances this summer, another being at London's Royal Albert Hall in July. The violinist believes the late shift helps put audiences in a more contemplative mindset for listening. "I think the atmosphere changes for the time of day," she said. "People listen differently."
For her second performance, Ibragimova offered the Largo from J.S. Bach's Solo Violin Sonata No. 3.
Ibragimova's still-young career is notable for the sheer breadth of her repertoire interests. She has also formed an all-female string quartet called Chiaroscuro that uses period instruments, though she herself opts for an unorthodox approach to equipment, changing strings, pitch and bows on her (comparably modern) 1780 Anselmo Bellosio violin. "Whilst it works, I find it's not ideal," she said. "Now I'm going to try a different violin to use with the quartet just so I don't have to put my violin through this all the time."
When she isn't touring, Ibragimova lives in Greenwich, England with her husband, the Guardian music critic Tom Service. The couple married in the spring, having first met when he interviewed her. She says it isn't difficult having a critic around who is constantly evaluating music. And there are perks: "There are so many books now at home. It's great. He knows all the opus numbers."
Video: Kim Nowacki; Audio: Irene Trudel; Interview: Jeff Spurgeon; Text & Production: Brian Wise