Monday, November 29, 2010
George Enescu's Solo Piano Music
Music lovers of my generation, mostly, came across the music of Romanian composer George Enescu (1881-1955) as the B-side of the highly acclaimed Ravi Shankar-Yehudi Menuhin album East Meets West. On the second side was a marvelous performance of Enescu's "Sonata for Violin and Piano," a work that reveled in an Eastern European tonality that made it a fitting example of the eastern-western half of the equation (the raga side of the record exemplifying the western-eastern, as it were). That record encouraged me to seek out more music by Enescu, and I found some wonderful recordings. The end of the LP era marked the end of further Enescu collecting for me. No reason, except perhaps there was less of it around on CD for a time.
With the Naxos (8.572120) release of Piano Music, performed in lovely fashion by Matei Varga, we get another side of the composer. This is more the Enescu as international stylist than it is Enescu the nationalist composer. The "Piano Sonata No. 1," "Pieces Impromptues, Op. 18," and the "Suite No. 2, Op. 10" are worthy examples of Enescu's art. There is a Ravellian glimmer in much of this music. It is delightful, as are the performances by Matei Varga.
Enescu needs to be heard more often. You can do that with this one and be assured that it is good Enescu music, not just any old Enescu music.