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Enescu: Piano Quintet / Piano Quartet No. 2
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Enescu: Piano Quintet / Piano Quartet No. 2

6 April 2003 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 6 April 2003
  • Release Date: 6 April 2003
  • Label: Naxos
  • Copyright: (C) 2003 Naxos
  • Total Length: 1:03:01
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001LYPU2C
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 430,555 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By GlynLuke TOP 100 REVIEWER on 27 Mar. 2011
Format: Audio CD
George Enescu is not only one of those composers who seem destined to be thought of on the sidelines of classical music, such as Bloch, Busoni, Dukas, Holst, Robert Simpson and Szymanowski, but, like them, seemingly fated to be perennially undervalued.
Enescu is an important figure in musical history, as composer, but also teacher (most notably perhaps of Menuhin), violinist, conductor, director of the Bucharest Opera, and, by all accounts, a generally very fine man and musician.
His one opera, Oedipe (see my review of the near-perfect EMI recording in these pages) is sensationally good, and should be far better known, not to mention more frequently performed. All of his music is worth getting to know. These two chamber works might be a happy place to start.
The Piano Quintet is an often sinuous work, utterly beguiling, full of inventive ideas and choppy moods, musically rich and with an East European tang that is irresistible.
The Piano Quartet is a wonderful work, perhaps more refined, more brooding, than the quintet, with a lyricism that is disarming and, coming after the fulsome quintet, swept this listener off his feet.
63 minutes of totally committed music, by an undeservedly sidelined genius, played with utter conviction by The Solomon Ensemble, on yet another Naxos bargain gem.
Recorded at Potton Hall, Suffolk (Naxos do get about) with the usual informative sleevenotes and pleasingly obscure yet apt cover painting, this is a disc I shall play often and with relish.
Eagerly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Enescu's Homage to Fauré 2 May 2003
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
A few months ago I submitted a review of Gidon Kremer's group playing Enescu's Octet and the Piano Quintet included on this disc. In preparing that review I was forced to start thinking about Enescu's style and although at that time I was having some problems coming to terms with the Quintet, this current issue has helped me crystallize my thinking (and, I think, come to understand the Quintet better, finally). It's simple, really: Enescu is an Impressionist Romantic. Is there such a category? Well, maybe I just invented it. But come to think of it composers like Szymanowski and Scriabin may be Impressionist Romantics, too. See what I mean? These composers use impressionist harmonic procedures in the service of writing pieces with Romantic gestures. Sums it up pretty well, I think.

These two pieces are very similar (which, considering they have consecutive opus numbers, probably isn't too surprising). Each is a three movement work, the first two movements of which are rather dreamy or introspective and very subtle in their form and content, particularly in the manipulation of thematic materials. At first one thinks, as one often does with Impressionist-sounding pieces, that they are somewhat meandering, somewhat formless. But nothing could be further from the case, hence my use of the term 'subtle.' They hang together without being obvious about it, and then culminate in a rip-roaring (well, relatively speaking) finale. For me, each of these finales is the high point of its piece. Perhaps that's because the subtlety of the first two movements leaves one with a yearning for some kind of outspokenness and some sort of summing up. And that's what these two finales do. They are each affirmative, using dance rhythms, assertive dynamics and a kind of sureness of purpose to balance the meditative, even diffident nature of the the two earlier movements, and making for a satisfying whole.

Along the way, in both pieces, there are striking melodic turns, harmonic sideslips, nothing ever aggressive or bombastic, but still unique enough to catch one's attention. The writer of the booklet's notes, Richard Whitehouse, mentions Enescu's acknowledged debt to his old teacher, Gabriel Fauré, and that is spot on. There is much here that reminds me of the late Fauré String Quartet, Op. 121 and his own late Piano Trio, Op. 120 (two more consecutive opus numbers!). But they are a bit beefier than Fauré's somewhat attenuated masterpieces.

The players here, The Solomon Ensemble, consisting of Anne Solomon & Andrew Roberts, violins; Ralf Ehlers, viola; Rebecca Gilliver, cello; and Dominic Sanders, piano, are obviously 'inside' the music. My only quibble would be that occasionally their playing (I think it's that, rather than the CD's engineering) is a bit too plain-spoken for the subtlety of the music. Still, I suspect that's just my taste for French string playing and certainly their approach is creditable. I'm glad to have a second version of the rarely heard Piano Quintet. I think I prefer the Kremer group's recording of it, but only by a hair.

Naxos has provided generally clear, true sound and there are excellent booklet notes by both Keith Anderson (a synopsis of Enescu's life and work) and Richard Whitehouse (on the pieces on this disc).

Scott Morrison
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Two Enescu masterpieces of extraordinary subtlety and refinement 12 Aug. 2007
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I thought I was fairly knowledgeable in the music of the Rumanian George Enescu (or Enesco as his name his written in French - France was his second country). With 31 opuses his numbered output is relatively small anyway, and I have one complete series of his orchestral music on Marco Polo plus one partial one on Erato (conducted by Lawrence Foster), multiple versions of his Violin and Piano Sonatas, his String Quartets, his Piano Sonatas and Suites. Recently I discovered his Impressions d'Enfance for Violin and Piano, a late piece (1940) and a masterpiece of equal stature as his famous 3rd Violin and Piano Sonata "Dans le caractère populaire roumain" (In the Rumanian Folk Character).

An ongoing survey of his Violin and Piano output (see my reviews of Menuhin Plays Enescu, Szymanowski, Prokofiev, Ravel, Andre Gertler performs Milhaud Violin Concert No 2, Violin Sonata No 2; Enescu Violin Sonata No 3 (Supraphon), Les Introuvables de Christian Ferras, West Meets East: The Historic Shankar/Menuhin Sessions, Franck, Debussy, Enesco: Violin Sonatas, Ravel: Sonate posthume; Tzigane; Enescu: Impressions d'enfance; Sonata No. 3, Enescu: Impressions d'Enfance; Schulhoff, Bartok: Violin Sonatas) made me want to explore more of his chamber music, and I chanced upon this disc. It brings together the Piano Quintet op. 29 and the 2nd Piano Quartet op. 30. As the "Impressions d'Enfance" suite, both are late works, composed during the war, during which the composer , then turning sixty, had taken refuge in his native Rumania and was living something like a compositional Indian Summer. The Piano Quintet was completed in 1940 (although parts of it were apparently drafted earlier). The 2nd Piano Quartet was finished in 1944. These are rare works, in performance (incredibly, the Piano Quintet had to wait 1964 for its first performance) as well as on disc. There is a major competing version of the Piano Quintet by Gidon Kremer and friends, recorded in Ludwigshafen, Germany in 2001 and released by Nonesuch (Octet & Quintet; there is another and difficult to find recording by the Voces Quartet on the Rumanian label Electrorecord). In the early 1990s Olympia released a version of the two Piano Quartets (the earlier one, op. 16, dates from 1909) by the Voces Quartet, recorded as early as 1981 (Enescu: Piano Quartets No1 & No 2). The other few versions were on Rumanian LPs.

Anyway, praise the CD medium from bringing us such rare and valuable material, and praise Naxos for doing it at such a cheap price. These two works are masterpieces of extraordinary subtlety and refinement. Admittedly, they are not as immediately striking as the 3rd Violin and Piano Sonata and Impressions d'Enfance, lacking as they do the extraordinary Gipsy flavor that imbues the Sonata and the wistfulness of Impressions, as well as the wide array of violin techniques (and the piano's aquatic textures) put at the service of a graphically evocative and fantastically poetic inspiration. But still all the trademarks of Enescu's later style are present: haunting melismatas attributed to the violin's upper range, passionate lyricism, sometimes (as in the Piano Quintet's 2nd movement) verging on the "fin de siècle" swooning and, as already mentioned, extraordinarily refined and subtle sonic invention. It is a music that doesn't lend all its secrets on a first or casual listening, but one that pays huge rewards on careful listening.

I have neither scores nor any of the competing versions (but hopefully that will change in a near future) so I will not risk an opinion on the interpretation by the Solomon Ensemble, other than giving them and Naxos my thanks for allowing me to make these discoveries.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
interesting but perhaps not essential 18 Oct. 2005
By G. Metcalf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a well-played and well-recorded CD. If you already know you like Enescu this can be recommended without further comment. Personally I found these two pieces difficult. There are plenty of interesting bits here and there but the overall logic of these two compositions was hard for me to follow. I bought this along with a recording of his violin sonatas and found myself on firmer ground there. As Mr. Morrison says in his typically helpful review one can certainly hear Faure in these works. I prefer Faure's piano quintets. Still this can be recommended due to its overall high quality and novel content.
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