The Unknown Enescu, Volume Two is Worth Knowing

George Enescu has always been a major figure in his native Romania. The rest of the world has taken a little longer to discover this amazing composer. 

This is surprising considering Enescu graduated from the Vienna Conservatory at age 12. Always a prolific composer, he premiered his first mature work in 1898, at age 16. 

Over time, some of his works gained traction. His three symphonies, the Romanian Rhapsodies, and string quartets all have their supporters. This Toccata Classics series dived deeper into Enescu’s catalog. And I’m glad they did. 

This volume focuses on various manuscripts, sketches, and transcriptions left by Enescu. Violinist Sherban Lupu is more than the album’s featured soloist. He is a world-renowned Enescu scholar. Lupu has published six volumes of violin music by Enescu. All previously unknown and edited, arranged — and in few cases completed — by Lupu. 

The release begins with a version of the Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 in A major for violin and piano. Enescu arranged the work for various soloists, but not this version. This is a reduction by Marcel Stern published in 1957. 

Also included is the Impressions roumaines for solo violin. Enescu made these sketches, translating folk music into classical violin technique.  And the release has a torso of an unfinished violin sonata, and some other sketches. All show Enescu’s inventiveness.  

The real showpiece is the Caprice Roumain for violin and orchestra. Enescu worked on this piece off and on for over twenty years. Cornel Țăranu has painstakingly collected all the surviving fragments. He’s stitched them together into a cohesive whole. The result is a work that sings with Enescu’s unique voice.

Sherban Lupu’s playing is superb. It’s technically spot-on. And it embodies the Romanian soul Enescu channeled into this music. An outstanding release that adds to our understanding of this talented composer.

George Enescu: The Unknown Enescu, Volume Two
Caprice Roumain for Violin and Orchestra
Romanian Rhapsody No. 1; Valse Lente “L’Enjoleuse”
Impressions Roumaines; Sonata Torso
Impromptu; Regrets; Adagio

Sherban Lupu, violin; Viorele Ciucur, piano
Ian Hobson, piano and conductor

Sinfonia da Camera
Toccata Classic

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