At 26, and as a notably successful veteran of the competition circuit, violinist Andrey Baranov plays with the confident pizzazz of someone who has all his technical ducks in order. For his appearance at the Phillips Collection on Sunday he and his sister, the excellent pianist Maria Baranova, played the sort of program that showed off his technical skills and challenged his musical imagination. For the most part, he rose to the occasion admirably.
His Prokofiev (Sonata in D Major, Op. 94, No. 2) and his Franck (Sonata in A Major for violin and piano) were at their best where speed and lightness were required. Baranov can wield a lot of power, but his tone tends to get grainy when he does, and while this was fine in lots of the Prokofiev, the Franck could have used more warmth. And although he got around the double-stops of the Ysaye “Ballade” with impressive accuracy and agility, the piece didn’t flow. What was missed in all three of these was a sense that Baranov was as absorbed in the guts of the music as he was in the process of playing it. Where musical commitment was most evident, and the playing most compelling, was in the short Tchaikovsky “Valse-Scherzo,” where Baranov’s tone was silvery, his rubatos delicately shaped and he gave his imagination free rein.
At the piano, Maria Baranova explored all this music’s subtleties with a wonderful sense of shape and intensity and collaborated in a most natural and intimate ensemble.
Reinthaler is a freelance writer.