Galynin Piano Music Vol.1

Invention and energy abound: this piano music should be better known

Author: 
David Fanning

Galynin Piano Music Vol.1

  • Sonata Triad
  • Suite
  • Four Preludes
  • Waltz
  • Dance
  • Scherzo
  • Spanish Fantasy
  • Three Pieces from 'The Tamer Tamed'
  • At The Zoo

Herman Galynin (found as German Galïnin in New Grove) was a pupil of Myaskovsky and Shostakovich in the 1940s. His death in 1966 at the age of 44 was much mourned by Soviet musicians. But his career had been blighted by illness (Louis Blois’s essay queries the widespread assumption of some kind of mental disorder) and by the aftermath of the 1948 anti-formalism campaign, which together meant that his output never blossomed in the manner of his near-contemporaries Boris Tchaikovsky and Mieczyslaw Weinberg.

To the best of my knowledge, no Western sheet-music publisher has yet taken Galynin under their wing, and there would surely be a market for his attractive invention, quick-witted energy and steely substance, expressed in idiomatic piano-writing that steers clear of flashy opportunism. All the music on this disc comes from the composer’s teens and twenties (some of it he revised near the end of his life), and its debts to Prokofiev and Shostakovich – occasionally also to Scriabin – are heavy and numerous. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that Galynin was into the “DSCH” motif well before Shostakovich made open use of it as his monogram, and the “Waltz” and “Dance” would make delightful encore pieces. In any case, this is need-to-know repertoire for anyone seeking fresh perspectives on Soviet music.

Olga Solovieva plays with fiery conviction throughout, and the recording quality and documentation testify to admirable team-effort. I am slightly surprised that all of Galynin’s piano music does not fit on one disc, so there must be more of it than I am aware of. In any case, roll on Volume 2.

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