plays Enescu -
'... a truly commanding performance.'
It's taken the entire span of modern recording -- but now, belatedly, following many spasmodic releases, the full legacy of George Enescu as a composer for violin and piano -- is becoming available to patient CD collectors -- so long deprived of these collected works.
Volume 1, already released, is an overview of Enescu's oeuvre for violin and piano -- starting with a late work; his ten Impressions d'enfance Op 28 (1940), then working back in time to the single movement Sonata (Torso) in A minor (1911) and finishing with Sonata No 2 in F minor, Op 6 (1899).
Beyond his Romanian homeland Enescu's prodigious gifts have consistently been relegated to the back stalls of 19th/20th century musical prominence. Yet here was a notable composer, an inspired conductor, a prominent violinist, and an admired pianist.
All the more reason to welcome the first complete recording of Enescu's violin and piano works with the composer's countryman, Remus Azoitei -- a brilliant, perceptive young artist steeped in Romanian tradition and its distinctive age-old idioms. Azoitei conveys a plethora of nuances with complete mastery of the exhaustive technical arsenal inherent within all these scores.
It's true, Enescu's works have not (recently) been neglected, but previous attitudes to the violin and piano 'canon' have been piecemeal and singularly incomplete; the 3rd Sonata faring best with Sonata No 2 a close second.
With that in mind I welcome the Hänssler initiative. Sadly there is a downside -- undoubtedly attributable to the Bremen sound engineers. Remus's 1718 'Maurin' Strad is too frequently overwhelmed by Stan's Steinway; especially in the sonatas
[listen -- track 11, 7:44-9:10].
It's true Enescu saw the two instruments as true duo partners; he never intended this music as a violin solo with piano accompaniment. Even so, here the violin is a little deprived of it's 'edge' and in consequence the sonatas are occasionally somewhat dulled. The upside is in performances that largely override such drawbacks.
Copyright © 9 May 2007
Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand