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Renato de Barbieri — The Historical HMV Recordings 1956 - Volume 2
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Sonata No.9 in A major, Op.47 Kreutzer (1803) [33:48]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor, Op.28 (1863) [9:03]
Carnival of the Animals: The Swan (1886) [2:17] ¹
Ottokar NOVÁCEK (1866-1890)
Perpetuum mobile [2:59]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Schön Rosmarin [2:17] ¹
Renato de Barbieri (violin)
Tulio Macoggi (piano)
Giuseppe Guastalla (piano) ¹
rec. 1956 and 1947 (The Swan, Schön Rosmarin)
IDIS 6657 [50:13]

This is the second release from IDIS devoted to the art of Italian fiddler Renato de Barbieri. (1920-1991). The first disc can be found on IDIS 6622. The majority of the things in this latest issue come from 1956 though there are two ‘bonuses’, which are 78s from 1947. Bonus means ‘shellac’, not largesse, I assume, given that even with their addition the total timing only just creeps to the 50 minute mark.
 
De Barbieri was an excellent violinist. As a young man in 1945 he made a famous international broadcast from Genova, the city of his birth, playing Paganini’s own ‘Cannon’ Guarneri del Gesù in an all-Paganini recital. One of his teachers was the Czech player Vaša Príhoda, whom the Italian succeeded at Salzburg’s Mozarteum. He taught in Salzburg for twenty years and in Genova for three decades.
 
His Kreutzer Sonata is technically adroit, buoyant, dramatic, with a facile pathos, and also a little superficial in places. The partnership with his long time colleague, pianist Tulio Macoggi is a very able one. Despite certain limitations, as a performance I would place it higher than near-contemporaneous performances by much better known duos such as Fuchs- Balsam and Menuhin-Kentner. The Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso is not very Gallic in orientation. There’s no sensuality or suggestiveness but there is one ‘Heifetz slide’ and a certain amount of rather cosmopolitan savoir faire. Less erotic than Thibaud, lacking the colour and variety of shadings evoked by Francescatti, this is nevertheless a perfectly decent performance, though not an excessively personalised one. Novácek’s Perpetuum mobile allows room for technical muscle flexing, though as Alberto Cantù rightly observes in his notes, there’s no showing off here.
 
The two 78s are Kreisler’s Schön Rosmarin and Saint-Saëns’s The Swan, both with pianist Giuseppe Guastalla in 1947. It’s unusual to hear The Swan on the violin these days, but it’s valuable to hear some fine singing legato.
 
The transfers are serviceable, no more. They’re clearly taken direct from an LP, as there is some audible rumble and some pops and clicks too. The 78 Kreisler transfer is fine, The Swan a bit noisy, doubtless because it was the more often played side.
 
Jonathan Woolf

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