Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova and French pianist Cédric Tiberghien, two of the world’s greatest young musicians, combine to present their first Musica Viva tour this month. Fresh from successful concerts in the UK and Europe, they will appear at The Armidale Town Hall, Saturday23 October, at 7pm.
How and why did you first start playing together?
Alina: We were together on the BBC New Generation young artists scheme. We were invited to play at the City of London Festival. And it worked very well, so we decided to begin bigger projects …
Cédric: The first thing we recorded was the Franck Sonata and Ravel, a French program. And we felt that we could be a real team.
Cédric, it’s not the most obvious chamber music configuration. What made you decide to become a duet?
It’s really hard to put into words. It’s just a question of alchemy. Sometimes you play with people who can play extremely well, but something with their personality does not really work together – it doesn’t match.
And with Alina, from the very beginning, we didn’t need to spend hours arguing, fighting. We don’t need to try to play together; we just follow exactly the same instincts and lines.
A duet is different from a recital with accompaniment. Can you explain the difference?
Alina: I think in the repertoire that we play, the Beethoven, for instance, is written for piano and violin – the piano has at least an equal part, if not a more superior one. They are at least equal parts in all the pieces we play.
Cédric: I think in a musical team with perfect equality we can really be the leader for one idea. It’s not only Alina who plays and decides musically what we do, and I just follow. Sometimes I can decide to be the leader, and I know that Alina will understand it immediately.
Alina, where were you born?
I was born in Russia in 1985 and initially studied with the Moscow Gnesin School. At the age of 10 I moved to London to attend the Yehudi Menuhin School and then the Royal College of Music, London.
Alina, describe your repertoire?
My repertoire ranges from Baroque to contemporary. I have toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and Kremerata Baltica, with whom I made my debut in 2005.
Cédric, where did you study music?
I studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Frédéric Aguessy and Gérard Frémy and was awarded the Permier Prix in 1992, aged just 17. I have since won a number of other major international prizes and have performed around the world, including London, Berlin, Tokyo, Hannover, Hamburg, Washington and Sydney.
Alina, have you been to Australia before?
We have both visited Australia before as soloists; this will be our first tour as a duo. Australia is a country I love so much – people are so friendly and it’s easy to communicate with the audience. You feel the energy immediately, even before starting a concert.
Cédric, what can we expect at your concert?
As well as sonatas by Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Strauss, we will perform a new piece for violin and piano by Musica Viva’s 2010 Featured Composer, Paul Stanhope.
We’re looking forward to playing Paul Stanhope’s new piece and being part of its creation; that’s not something we get to do very often.
Do you go to concerts and operas?
Alina: We try to.
Cédric: I prefer other kinds of artistic experiences. Exhibitions, maybe different kinds of music, Jazz … It’s more for just feeling myself – not especially thinking of what I could do to make my Beethoven sonata much better.
Do you get inspiration from visual art?
Alina: For sure, that’s actually the most inspiration – galleries. Reading, for me, as well.
Cédric: I’m very interested in modern art. It can always help, even for Bach’s music, just to see a completely abstract picture.
Suddenly you understand or feel something that maybe you can use again when you play music that was written 300 years before. You don’t know why. Maybe there’s no explanation. But it happened to me several times.
AIina: I once had a lesson on the Beethoven violin concerto, and my teacher decided to have the lesson in the Tate Modern.
He took me to the Rothko room, and we were there for a long time, and actually … it really worked.
Thank you Alina and Cédric.