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The Unknown Enescu Vol 1 - Music for Violin

Enescu / Lupu / Rostad / Cazacu / Kouzov / Hobson
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 47   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Sherban LupuGeorge Enescu
Performer:  Sherban LupuIan HobsonIlinca DumitrescuMarin Cazacu,   ... 
Conductor:  Sherban Lupu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Enescu Ensemble of the University of Illinois
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ENESCU Aubade 5. Pastorale, Menuet triste et Nocturne. 1,8 Sarabande. Sérénade lointaine. 3,6 Andantino malinconico 6. Prelude and Gavotte 4,5,7. Airs dans le genre roumain. Légende. 5 Sérénade en sourdine. 4 Fantaisie Read more concertante (arr. Lupu). Nocturne “Villa d’Avrayen 2,5.” Hora Unirei 5. Aria and Scherzino (arr. Lupu 1,8 ) Sherban Lupu (vn, 1 cond); 2 Masumi Per Rostad (va); 3 Marin Cazacu (vc); 4 Dmitry Kouzov (vc); 5 Ian Hobson (pn); 6 Ilinca Dumitrescu (pn); 7 Samir Golescu (pn); 8 Enescu Ens of the Univ. of Illinois TOCCATA CLASSICS 0047 (80: 30)

By all the accounts I have ever heard or read about him, George Enescu (1881-1955) was one of nature’s noblemen. Multitalented as a violinist and violin teacher (his most famous pupils were Menuhin, Grumiaux, Ferras, Gitlis, and Haendel), conductor and orchestra builder (he formed a symphony orchestra bearing his name), and chamber musician (he performed with such friends as Casals, Thibaud, Cortot, Kreisler, and Ysaÿe), he was also a composer. During his lifetime only 33 opus numbers were published, but apparently he had a large stash of unpublished pieces when he died, including (but not restricted to) four symphonies that he composed while still a student! This disc, which bears the title The Unknown Enescu Vol. 1: Music for Violin, is the first in a projected series that will hope to establish his bona-fides as a composer of the first-rank.

This disc does include several pieces previously recorded: Aubade, Pastorale, Menuet triste et Nocturne, Sérénade lointaine, Andantino malinconico, Légende, Sérénade en sourdine, Hora Unirei, and Aria and Scherzino. But, and I assume this will be the case with all subsequent releases, the other pieces are first recordings and it should be noted that the Pastorale, Menuet triste et Nocturne is receiving its first recording here of this version. None of these pieces were given an opus number. Although I was not previously familiar with him, I was glad to know that violinist Sherban Lupu is himself Romanian. Very often, I have found, the music of Eastern Europeans requires native players because the rhythms of such music often mirrors the speech patterns of those nations.

As would be expected, the earlier pieces—written when Enescu was between age nine ( Légende ) and 22 ( Sérénade lontaine )—are the most tuneful, based on Romanian folk music and the like, although—as is often the case with Eastern folk music—there are harmonic twists inherent in the old modes these songs were formed in that give them some interest. The Pastorale, etc., was originally sketched, the notes tell us, as three separate pieces with orchestra, but then finished in September 1900 as a triptych for violin and piano four-hands. Lupu, who liked both arrangements, combines them here, using a small string orchestra with the piano. The “Nocturne,” alas, overstays its welcome somewhat.

With the Sarabande, written between 1915 and 1920, we hear the mature Enescu in a much more thoroughly composed piece that also introduces more modern harmonies. Written for unaccompanied violin, it is naturally reliant in form on the Bach Partitas and Sonatas (which Enescu played often and, apparently, very well), but also to the unaccompanied works of his colleague Ysaÿe. In the 1903 Sérénade lointaine, we hear an in-between style, still light and lyrical but more developed than the works of 1900 and before. Enescu was truly “becoming” a fine composer, yet the “Rom” element of Romania is still evident in the wistful, melancholy melodic structure. This is immediately followed on the CD by one of his last pieces, the Andantino malinconico (1951), where he purposely introduced many accidentals, enharmonic changes and different rhythms to test the sight-reading abilities of his students; but Enescu being Enescu, he was almost incapable of writing anything that did not have feeling, and this piece, despite its modern bent, it is an almost tragic-sounding lament, one of his finest and most concise compositions.

Although Enescu was only 17 when he wrote the Prelude and Gavotte, one can hear several elements in it of the mature composer to come. Written near the end of his time at the Paris Conservatoire, the prelude bears some of the influence of his teacher, Fauré, while the gavotte is very much a modern twist on Baroque music; the liner notes even suggest a parody. The unaccompanied Airs dans le genre roumain, composed in 1926, is close in both time and style to his Third Violin Sonata but relies much more on tricky, dazzling technique to convey an almost non-stop flow of folk-like melodies. Think of a much more highly developed Hora Staccato, and you’ll have some idea of what it sounds like. Here, Lupu’s violin tone is stretched to its limits, forced by the music’s technical demands to emulate folk playing more than classical style, and he manages it with tremendous aplomb and good humor. What a tour-de-force—and Lupu makes it sound easy!

The earliest piece on this disc, the 1891 Légende, is surprisingly mature in some respects: It bears a kinship to Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen and also shows how well he was already writing for the violin, but the rather abrupt ending suggests that at this early age Enescu wasn’t quite sure how to finish it. The 1915-20 Sérénade en sourdine, though also quite lyrical, is again a much more highly developed piece, and his polyphonic writing for the violin and cello is masterful, with the lower instrument constantly buoying the upper one through both rhythmic and harmonic devices, sometimes playing a third down and sometimes providing an almost viola da gamba -like accompaniment in counterpoint and contrary rhythm.

Perhaps the most complex and fascinating piece on this disc, the 1932 Fantaisie concertante was actually composed by Enescu for a proposed Symphonie Concertante for violin and orchestra but left unfinished. Sherban Lupu has reconstructed it here in much the same way that Gunther Schuller reconstructed certain orchestral pieces of Charles Mingus for the score of Epitaph. Lupu explains the reasons for finishing it as an unaccompanied violin work: The opening pages were fully orchestrated, ready to be played, but then trail off more and more until all that was really left was the solo violin line, and Lupu didn’t feel up to continuing the orchestration, which he says was really too sparse to use as a starting-point. The harmonic and melodic language here, Lupu says, is very close to that of Enescu’s opera Oedipus, which he has played as concertmaster of the orchestra in the American staging of the opera. It is indeed a great piece of music, not only technically challenging to the player but musically challenging to the listener. In addition to its technical challenges, Lupu also imbues it with tremendous feeling.

The Nocturne “Villa d’Avrayen” (1931-36) is lyrical, melancholy, and a little eerie all at the same time. Composed at a time when he was playing chamber music with Yehudi Menuhin and his sisters Hepzibah and Yaltah, as well as with Jacques Thibaud, Pierre Monteux on viola and Maurice Eisenberg on cello, it is unquestionably one of the greatest pieces on the CD. By contrast, the very brief Hora Unirei is a gentle piece, much less aggressive than Dinicu’s Hora Staccato. It is based on a tune that became a patriotic song in Romania in 1859. The CD concludes with the relatively brief and very lyrical Aria and Scherzino (c. 1898-1908). It’s not very deep music, but it has tremendous charm.

I cannot recommend this CD highly enough, to Enescu lovers, to fans of the violin, or to those who enjoy classical music informed by Eastern European and Gypsy folk music. At times, I almost wished that Stéphane Grappelli had played some of this music, since I could almost hear Django’s guitar in the background. Five stars!

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Airs dans le genre roumin, for violin by Sherban Lupu
Performer:  Sherban Lupu (Violin)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1926 
Venue:  The "Mihail Jora" Concert Hall, Radio Br 
Length: 7 Minutes 16 Secs. 
2.
Fantaisie concertante, for violin (completed by Lupu) by Sherban Lupu
Performer:  Sherban Lupu (Violin)
Conductor:  Sherban Lupu
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 10/10/1932 
Venue:  The "Mihail Jora" Concert Hall, Radio Br 
Length: 11 Minutes 8 Secs. 
3.
Aubade, for violin, viola & cello in C major by George Enescu
Performer:  Ian Hobson (Piano), Sherban Lupu (Violin)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 11/1899 
Venue:  The Kranert Center for the Performing Ar 
Length: 3 Minutes 49 Secs. 
4.
Pastorale, Menuet triste and Nocturne for Violin and Piano 4 hands by George Enescu
Performer:  Sherban Lupu (Violin)
Conductor:  Sherban Lupu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Enescu Ensemble of the University of Illinois
Venue:  The "Mihail Jora" Concert Hall, Radio Br 
Length: 13 Minutes 1 Secs. 
5.
Sarabande, for violin by George Enescu
Performer:  Sherban Lupu (Violin)
Period: Modern 
Written: circa 1910-1915 
Venue:  The "Mihail Jora" Concert Hall, Radio Br 
Length: 4 Minutes 46 Secs. 
6.
Sérénade lointaine for Piano, Violin and Cello by George Enescu
Performer:  Ilinca Dumitrescu (Piano), Sherban Lupu (Violin), Marin Cazacu (Cello)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 11/15/1903 
Venue:  The "Mihail Jora" Concert Hall, Radio Br 
Length: 4 Minutes 53 Secs. 
7.
Andante Malinconico for Violin and Piano by George Enescu
Performer:  Ilinca Dumitrescu (Piano), Sherban Lupu (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; Romania 
Venue:  The "Mihail Jora" Concert Hall, Radio Br 
Length: 2 Minutes 19 Secs. 
8.
Prelude & Gavotte, for violin, cello & 2 pianos by George Enescu
Performer:  Dmitry Kouzov (Cello), Sherban Lupu (Violin), Ian Hobson (Piano),
Samir Golescu (Piano)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1898 
Venue:  The Kranert Center for the Performing Ar 
Length: 10 Minutes 24 Secs. 
9.
Legende by George Enescu
Performer:  Sherban Lupu (Violin), Ian Hobson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1905; Romania 
Venue:  The Kranert Center for the Performing Ar 
Length: 4 Minutes 24 Secs. 
10.
Sérénade en sourdine, for violin, cello & piano in E minor by George Enescu
Performer:  Dmitry Kouzov (Cello), Sherban Lupu (Violin)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 11/15/1903 
Venue:  The Kranert Center for the Performing Ar 
Length: 4 Minutes 24 Secs. 
11.
Nocturne for violin, viola, cello & piano ("Villa d'avrayen") by George Enescu
Performer:  Masumi Per Rostad (Viola), Ian Hobson (Piano), Sherban Lupu (Violin)
Conductor:  Sherban Lupu
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1931-1936 
Venue:  The Kranert Center for the Performing Ar 
Length: 6 Minutes 14 Secs. 
12.
Hora Unirei for Violin and Piano by George Enescu
Performer:  Sherban Lupu (Violin), Ian Hobson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  The Kranert Center for the Performing Ar 
Length: 1 Minutes 44 Secs. 
13.
Aria and Scherzino, for violin, viola, cello, double bass & piano by George Enescu
Performer:  Sherban Lupu (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Enescu Ensemble of the University of Illinois
Period: Modern 
Written: 1909 
Venue:  The "Mihail Jora" Concert Hall, Radio Br 
Length: 5 Minutes 10 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Aubade
Pastorale, Menuet triste et Nocturne (arr. S. Lupu): Pastorale
Pastorale, Menuet triste et Nocturne (arr. S. Lupu): Menuet triste
Pastorale, Menuet triste et Nocturne (arr. S. Lupu): Nocturne
Sarabande (after J.S. Bach)
Serenade lointaine
Andante malinconico
Prelude and Gavotte (arr. for chamber ensemble): Prelude
Prelude and Gavotte (arr. for chamber ensemble): Gavotte
Airs dans le genre roumain: I. Moderato (molto rubato)
Airs dans le genre roumain: II. Allegro giusto
Airs dans le genre roumain: III. Andante
Airs dans le genre roumain: IV. Andante giocoso
Legende (arr. for chamber ensemble)
Serenade en sourdine
Fantaisie concertante
Nocturne, "Villa d'Avrayen"
Hora Unirei
Aria and Schezino (arr. S. Lupu): Aria
Aria and Schezino (arr. S. Lupu): Scherzino

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Not a good CD, even the condition of the product August 16, 2014 By Maria  R. (Toledo, OH) See All My Reviews "I received a cracked cd case with the cd in it, and I didn't like it...." Report Abuse
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