Reviews from the BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, The Independent (UK), De Volkskrant (NL), The Star, (MY) American Record Guide, The Viol, The Consort, and Early Music Review.
Please see below for a selection.
“This is a recording to be reckoned with"
"..fine tone and technique, playing with feeling and power"
(American Record Guide)
"An accomplished first solo album, presented with musical and technical aplomb.
Aziz is clearly a musician with a distinctive voice and an important contribution to make"
(The Viol, Summer 2019)
★ ★ ★ ★
(De Volkskrant, Holland)
“The warmth of Ibrahim Aziz’s playing is never in doubt”
(Lark CD Reviews)
“Aziz makes his instrument sing”
The arrival of Ibrahim Aziz’s new Handel release will set many a heart beating with delight. A whole disc devoted to music by Handel for the viol? If that is too much to expect, Aziz does not disappoint with his masterful arrangements of works by Handel and those in some way connected with his canon, for other than the obbligato and concertante parts for viol that Handel included in his cantatas, the oratorio La Resurrezione and the opera Giulio Cesare, there are no sonatas in the canon originally composed for our instrument.
This recording was undoubtedly inspired by Handel’s own arrangement of the first movement of the Sonata in G minor, HWV 364b (from the version for violin), and Aziz’s versions of the succeeding movements follow seamlessly. He and Masumi Yamamoto deliver an eloquent and accomplished performance, particularly in the Andante larghetto and Adagio. The other delight is the improvisatory solo Prelude in D minor HWV 437 (from the keyboard Suite No. 4), which makes splendid use of the gamut of his seven-string instrument by Shem Mackey after Michael Collichon (in other tracks Aziz plays his six-string Barak Norman). Yamamoto takes her own masterly solo turn with Gottlieb Muffat’s arrangement of Handel’s Suite No. 4 in E minor, HWV 429.
After the genuineness of the G minor Sonata, the G major, after HWV 372 for violin (in A major), immediately proclaims itself to be the work of another composer. If it lacks the spark of genius and charm of Handel, the musicians nevertheless lavish it with a stylish performance that will endear it to other players. Much the same can be said of the Kassel Sonata No. 5 in D major (copied by Babell but thought to be by J.J. Kress), though the hymn-like Sarabande will impress.
Because this is also a recital disk, Aziz includes a solo Prélude by Sainte-Colombe le fils, who was resident in London when Handel arrived. His interpretation is pleasing but having demonstrated his articulate command of long phrases in the preceding tracks, he could have allowed himself more time, here, to express the underlying French rhetoric.
The disc appropriately ends with their arrangement of Handel’s D minor keyboard Suite, HWV448, which cleverly alternates between French and Italian styles. Every movement offers something to savour – antiphonal passages, poetic sequences, exquisitely ornamented repeats, to name but a few, and again as elsewhere, Aziz and Yamamoto deliver a memorable performance. The closing Chaconne has it all. Let’s hope that Aziz follows the recording with an edition of his arrangements. There will be no shortage of takers.
Julie Anne Sadie Goode (The Viol, Spring 2020)