The most compelling recording of the violin’s toughest test

The most compelling recording of the violin’s toughest test


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2015

My album of the week on is a rare five-star.

It’s a set of the six Ysaye sonatas by the UK-Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova who, in my view, imposes herself on the sonatas with an authority that is arrestingly quiet. I cannot recall any artist who keeps the level down with such fierce determination, avoiding the temptation of a flashy trill in favour of maximum concentration….

Her playing is of unerring and at times unearthly accuracy, yet the effect she projects is totally warm and compassionate; of sympathy for the human condition. Among the 20-odd recordings of the complete sonatas, this becomes immediately my preferred choice.

Read the full review here.


Here is what Alina is up against by way of past recordings:


Ruggiero Ricci, 1974, Candide
Gidon Kremer, 1976, VMI
Charles Castleman, 1981, Music & Arts
Oscar Shumsky, 1982, Nimbus
Lydia Mordkovitch, 1988, Chandos
Yuval Yaron, 1990, Accord
Evgenia-Maria Popova, 1991, Leman
Mateja Marinkovic, 1992, Collins
Vilmos Szabadi, 1992, Hungaroton
Stéphane Tran Ngoc, 1994, REM
Frank Peter Zimmermann, 1994, EMI
Tomoko Kato, 1995, Denon
Vincenzo Bolognese, 1997, Arts
Philippe Graffin, 1997, Hyperion
Takayoshi Wanami, 1997, Somm
Leonidas Kavakos, 1999, BIS
Hana Kotková, 2002, Forlane
Thomas Zehetmair, 2004, ECM
Rachel Kolly D’Alba, 2010, Warner
Judith Ingolfssohn, 2011, Genuin
Tai Murray, 2012, Harmonia Mundi
Krystof Barati, 2013, Brilliant
Tianwa Yang, 2014, Naxos

(main source: Peter Wilson,


  • T-ARAFANBOY says:

    Alina is indeed an amazing violinist, always exploring the less known repertoire.
    I first came across her in a recording of the Roslavets violin concertos (Ilan Volkov conducting) which I have to say is a true gem.

  • Andrew Condon says:

    In addition to those listed above there are excellent recordings by Samika Honda (2010 – Polymnie), Ilya Kayler (Naxos) and Rudolf Werthen (EMI – ? only on LP)

  • Paul says:

    Laurent korcia?

  • Peter Chun says:

    There are MANY more recordings of the Ysaÿe Sonatas than listed up there. Also, on the Sinfini page:

    “Alina Ibragimova presents the sonatas of Belgium’s greatest conductor [!!!] with great accuracy and warmth.”

    Yes, Ysaÿe was a conductor, most notably as the Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, but no one remembers him as a conductor—a composer would be more justified, but he should be remembered foremost as a violinist par excellence.

  • Geoff Radnor: says:

    In 1995 James Ehnes recorded the 24 caprices, I think it was his first cd. he’s at the Wigmore Hall next week I think, worth a trip to London for sure.

  • MB says:

    Also an interesting recording from Tedi Papavrami.

  • Geoff Radnor: says:

    Well it seems as if James Ehnes has made two recordings, and Ricci did more than one recording too.

  • Jules says:

    Ilya Kaler, 2004, Naxos

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