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The Art of Galina Barinova
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Sonata in A minor Arpeggione D821 arranged violin and piano [21.06]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

Meditation from Thais Act II arranged Marsick [5.10]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Waltz in A major Op.39 No.15 arranged David Hochstein [2.31]
Scherzo from F.A.E Sonata in C minor [5.39]
Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884)

Duet in G minor No.2 Ma Vlast (1878) [7.14]
J de MONTASTERIO (1836-1903)

Sierra Morena [5.00]
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)

Legend [7.10]
Juan MANEN (1883-1971)

Turkey in the Straw [2.03]
Clarence Cameron WHITE (1880-1960)

Nobody Knows The Trouble I Seen – Negro Spiritual [4.22]
Tor AULIN (1866-1914)

Humoresque Op.12 No.1 [3.49]
Gavotte and Musette Op.15 No.4 [4.43]
Galina Barinova (violin) with
Grigori Singer (piano), Igor Katayev (piano), Alexander Dedyukhin (piano)
rec. 1940-60
MELODIYA MEL CD 10 00997 [69.51]

This is an unexpected pleasure. Barinova, now little remembered, was one of the Soviet Union’s star fiddlers. Born in 1910 in St Petersburg she studied with Paul Kochanski amongst others, though later gravitated to Thibaud in Paris, Carl Flesch - in the notes spelt ‘Flesh’ - having left for America and being thus unavailable. At the age of twenty-seven she took third place in the All-Soviet Union violin competition but it was in the post-War years that her career took off. Henry Roth has some sour things to say about her in his book on violinists, barely bothering to hide his feeling that it was some kind of political pressure and not her innate talent that led to her ascent of what was the toughest violin ladder in the world. He seems only to have had access to one of her recordings and to have made his prognosis on limited audition, though I have to add that having listened to seventy minutes of her playing, captured over a twenty-year period, I have to agree with most of his comments.

Her most important recordings are not here. She recorded the Karłowicz Concerto with Kondrashin which gained some renown when re-released in the West on Westminster. Her Sibelius was with Orlov in 1947, the Glazunov with Anosov in 1952, and there were two Bach violin sonata recordings – No.2 with Richter and No.3 with organist Roizman. Let’s hope that Melodiya has its reissue programme ready to dispense these tasty items.

A quick look at the programme, then. Her Massenet shows up a rather slow vibrato and one or two gauche slides. Despite comments in the notes to the contrary, her intonation tended toward the "creative" as it does here. Her Brahms is rather earthbound and she seems to have projection problems in the Scherzo from the F.A.E. sonata, especially with regard to her two lower strings. Her accompanist Grigori Singer sounds the better Brahmsian. Her Smetana lacks imagination. Singer plays vibrantly if loudly but Barinova’s rubato could be better, her tone wider, and there should be far more colour in her playing. It’s all too low wattage a performance, heading toward the perfunctory.

The de Monasterio is a saucy genre piece. Menuhin once recorded it but no-one else seems to have essayed it; as for the music it’s Sarasate meets Granados, and she can’t meet its demands for big toned vibrancy. The two pieces of ersatz Americana sound to be 1940s recordings from the boxy acoustic. This is the only recording known to me of the Manen though Kreisler and Spalding both recorded the White Spiritual arrangement. Barinova mistakes slow tempo for expressive effect and she lacks tonal depth. The little Tor Aulin charmers go rather better. Note that only Elman, other than Barinova, has recorded the Humoresque – and that on an acoustic Pathé. There is also the unlikely inclusion of the Delius Legend where she sounds rhythmically all at sea. The biggest work here is the anonymous arrangement of the Arpeggione Sonata, a very odd thing to ask her to record. She exudes some upper string crystalline purity in the Adagio though there are one or two unhappy moments in the finale. As to why she didn’t record one of the Sonatas/Sonatinas I can’t say.

Despite the list of negatives regarding her playing there are valuable things here. She remains a significant figure in the history of twentieth century violin playing in Russia and I am happy that these discs have been made available. They should really have been better documented; dating them 1940-60 is a bit of a blow to the discographer though the transfers are reasonable enough without being at all outstanding. Certainly it’s a specialist acquisition but let’s hope it heralds those big concertos. One final thing – nice sepia tinted artwork.

Jonathan Woolf



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