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Enescu: Piano Sonatas, Scherzo, Etc / Luiza Borac


Release Date: 04/04/2006 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 2081   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Enescu
Performer:  Luiza Borac
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 34 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

So how is this set? Let me begin with a caveat: I haven’t yet heard the final pressing; instead, I’ve been working with pre-production CDs that don’t include all the final noise shaping and that certainly don’t include the SACD tracks (or the program notes). This is therefore not a final review, although the recordings are close enough to finished to make a reasonable assessment possible.

Borac’s performances of the Enescu Suites are notable for their flexibility and their fragrance, and her romantic sensitivity and timbral imagination pay even higher dividends in the two miraculous sonatas. I think it’s fair to say that these
Read more are extremely individualistic works by a musical polymath whose work, as both performer and composer (let’s leave aside the Romanian Rhapsodies), is flecked with genius. The music may look back to Bach, sideways to Szymanowski, and ahead to Messiaen, but as a whole, it sounds like no one else’s. Still, at the same time it’s fair to say that it generally orbits around the worlds of Impressionism and neo-Classicism—and that both of these strands are well served by Borac’s pianism. The dark and ambiguous wanderings of the first movement of the First—certainly more disturbing than anything in Debussy—are navigated with such knowing suppleness, such control of subtle changes in light and polyphonic weight, that the music glows with a sense of discovery and wonder; the winding second movement of the third, as much a study in textures as anything else, is similarly effective. Yet there’s plenty of high spirited dash in the first movement of the Third, a delightful neo-Baroque romp that keeps slipping off the rails and that whimsically includes not one but two false endings.

There’s not much competition in the sonatas, but what’s out there is exceptional. I wouldn’t say that Borac’s First quite surpasses Dana Ciocarlie’s slightly more incisive account (Empreinte Digitale ED 13122; 25:1), where the hypnotic sinistrality in the third movement is arguably even more transfixing; nor does this new recording supplant Dinu Lipatti’s legendary account of the Third. Still, Borac’s performances are invaluable second opinions for connoisseurs—and for anyone who wants both sonatas together, they’re the easy first choice.

Borac does a magnificent job of holding the vast Nocturne together, both in its luxurious, slightly static outer sections and in its stormier Lisztian B section. She’s just at home in the gentle Prelude and Fugue. Except for a few moments (for instance, the series of harmonic surprises that disrupts the end of the Prelude), it’s one of Enescu’s more straightforward works (if it reminds you briefly of Liszt, it’s the Liszt of Weihnachtsbaum), and it gets a wonderfully patient and limpid performance here. The darker flickers of the homage to Fauré—part of a collaborative series that also included Ravel’s more famous Berceuse sur le nom de Fauré—are sensitively handled, too; and while one can imagine a pianist with more sheer venom in the tarantella-like outer sections of the Scherzo, a superior recording is unlikely to show up any time soon. I’ll reserve judgment on the sound until I hear a final copy; but in the meantime, I can only give these discs—which, due to their slightly short playing time, are specially priced—an enthusiastic recommendation.

FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano, Op. 24 no 1 by George Enescu
Performer:  Luiza Borac (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; Romania 
Venue:  St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England 
Length: 25 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England (06/04/2005 - 06/07/2005) 
2.
Sonata for Piano in D major, Op. 24 no 3 by George Enescu
Performer:  Luiza Borac (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933-1935; Romania 
Venue:  St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England 
Length: 23 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Notes: St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England (06/04/2005 - 06/07/2005) 
3.
Piece sur le nom de "Faure" by George Enescu
Performer:  Luiza Borac (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; Romania 
Venue:  St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Notes: St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England (06/04/2005 - 06/07/2005) 
4.
Prelude and Fugue for Piano in C major by George Enescu
Performer:  Luiza Borac (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; Romania 
Venue:  St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England 
Length: 15 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Notes: St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England (06/04/2005 - 06/07/2005) 
5.
Nocturne for Piano in D flat major by George Enescu
Performer:  Luiza Borac (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; Romania 
Venue:  St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England 
Length: 20 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Notes: St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England (06/04/2005 - 06/07/2005) 
6.
Scherzo for Piano by George Enescu
Performer:  Luiza Borac (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1896; France 
Venue:  St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Notes: St Dunstan's Church, Mayfield, England (06/04/2005 - 06/07/2005) 

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