Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Trios: in g; in a.
ZIG-ZAG TERRITOIRES 303 (52:39)
In a review he wrote for
almost 10 years ago, Martin Anderson noted that he believes that “George Enescu is the greatest composer of the 20th century, perhaps of all time, whose greatness is not generally recognized.” I fully subscribe to that astute comment and, sadly, I believe that it still rings true today. Thus,
notwithstanding some valiant efforts to stimulate interest in and appreciation for Enescu’s complex idiom, among which I count the superlative recording of the Romanian pianist Matei Varga I review above, much of Enescu’s music still remains largely unknown. If you still do not believe me, consider this fact: Of the three works included on this recording, two were discovered only recently, and only one (the five-minute
) appears to have been previously recorded commercially. Against that background, and even though for the most part the repertoire featured here is very much a portrait of the composer as a young man, the Brancusi Trio’s recording of Enescu’s works for piano trio is most welcome.
The Trio in G Minor—a buoyant, unabashedly romantic work Enescu penned at the ripe age of 16—shows a composer of considerable gifts who is nonetheless working under the spell of his predecessors, most notably, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Dvo?ák. (If you are skeptical about Enescu’s abilities at age 16, you should know that he began composing at age five and, by age 11, he had already received a degree from the Vienna Conservatory.) The second work, the
, which Enescu composed around 1903 as a tribute to Romania’s royal family, is a pleasing piece but, unlike most of Enescu’s works, it seems deliberately not to aim very high. Although it shows the seeds of Enescu’s perennial fascination with the complex harmonic language of the French postromantic school, the
, like the early trio, offers few clues concerning the extraordinary transformations Enescu’s voice would undertake over the next few decades. The last work on the CD, the Trio in A Minor, is a completely different story. Although Enescu continued to mature as a composer after he wrote it in 1916, this piece has all the hallmarks of Enescu’s mature style—it is introverted, richly harmonic, contrapuntal, deeply expressive, and, for the most part, no longer tributary to Enescu’s composition teachers.
While, as noted, this is pretty much the only show in town featuring this repertoire, the very fine playing still deserves special praise. Nothing that came out of Enescu’s pen is easy, and most of it is very difficult indeed. Composed of three young virtuosi—violinist Saténik Khourdoian, cellist Laura Buruiana, and pianist Mara Dobrescu—the Brancusi Trio does just about everything right, and is equally at home in the bravura writing of the G Minor and the introversion of the A-Minor trios. Khourdoian’s luminous tone in the latter work is particularly impressive.
The quality of the recording is excellent, although at times the piano comes across as overly resonant.
All in all, an important contribution to Enescu’s legacy.
FANFARE: Radu A. Lelutiu
Works on This Recording
Piano Trio in G minor: I. Allegro molto vivace
Piano Trio in G minor: II. Allegretto graziosi
Piano Trio in G minor: III. Andante
Piano Trio in G minor: IV. Presto
Piano Trio in A minor: I. Allegro moderato
Piano Trio in A minor: II. Allegretto con variazioni
Piano Trio in A minor: III. Vivace amabile
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