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CD Review

George Enescu

Music for Violin & Piano

  • Torso
  • Sonata #3, Op. 25 (In The Popular Romanian Style)
  • Impressions of Childhood
  • Piece Sur Le Nom De "Faure" (piano solo)
  • Aubade
Orfeo Duo
Marquis Classics MAR239 73:25
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Having cherished Enescu's own 1943 recording of his 3rd violin sonata with Dinu Lipatti, it is a pleasure to renew its acquaintance in a splendid modern recording by a young brother & sister duo, who have researched the oeuvre thoroughly and demonstrate, by playing everything by memory, their close rapport and complete assimilation of George Enescu's complex idiom.

This best loved of his sonatas recreates folk fiddling style with notated ornamentation and special effects, and the piano contributes by blurring major and minor, the whole a unique and fascinating amalgam of "high and low art" (Stephanie Conn). Impressions of Childhood is a substantial sequence of sound pictures (24 mins) which again recreates in concert context many folk styles, and includes equivalents to the natural sounds of bird song and running water. I find it surprising that neither has held a regular place in the repertoire.

The notes are rather odd, beginning by assuring us that Enescu, a notable all-round musician, was not "lazy" and continuing by knocking the unfinished sonata movement, discouragingly titled "Torso" here, for its stylistic contrasts, instead of letting us make up our own minds. I liked its wayward imaginativeness. The two smaller pieces, previously unrecorded, complete a rewarding programme which everyone should enjoy.

Marquis Classics has co-produced this CD with the Music & Sound Recording Programme of The Banff Centre for the Arts in Toronto, which assists musicians and audio engineers preparing for, or actively pursuing, careers in their profession. These players are extremely well served by the recording at the Banff Centre, and engineer Theresa Leonard has the balance exactly right. I hope The Orfeo Duo (Vita Wallace, violin & Ishmael Wallace, piano) will be tempted to cross the Channel and play at London's Wigmore Hall?

Copyright © 2002, Peter Grahame Woolf