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Poème Roumain - Symphonic Suite (1898) 27.10
Vox Maris - symphonic poem (1929) 26.24
Voix de la Nature - Nuages d'automne sur les forêts (1931-39) 8.38
Florin Diaconescu, George Enescu Bucharest PO and choir/Christian Mandeal
rec Bucharest, 9-18 July 1997 ARTE NOVA 74321 65425 2 [62.21]

Arte Nova's Enescu series drives forward with the same authority established in the first four discs . This is a mixed bag indeed. The Poème Roumain is in two giant slabs of music each circa 13 minutes long. The first is devoid of the cheap effects and lapses in taste which sometimes disfigures the rhapsodies. It is idyllic and romantic using a theme which cannot help but remind you of the opening and main muscular tune from Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture. It is a wonder that Enescu never wrote a violin concerto (there is a rather syrupy Ballade for violin and orchestra). Perhaps in the closing eight or so minutes of this movement we get an inkling of how the central andante of a violin concerto from Enescu might have sounded: rather Delian, sweet and languidly contented. The second movement is more of a rag-bag with brassy Brucknerian (Symphony No. 7) material and raucously pompous Rumanian local colour.

The rhapsodic tone poem Vox Maris explores the myth of the mariners lured to their salty graves by the Odyssean Sirens. It has a kinship with the grand opera Oedip and the third symphony and has no shred of the side-show about it. It is scored for a full orchestra plus solo tenor and chorus. This is a winding, perhaps even meandering, tale with plentiful cross-references to Bax (Fand and Tintagel), Griffes Kubla Khan, Debussy and a little of Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead and in the a storm a lot of Sibelius's Tempest. The work is promising but somehow in its extreme surrender to rhapsodic feeling fails to transfix the attention. It is work of great richness and weird effect (listen to the shrilling of the soprano at 15.38) with wind machine and the use of the chorus as another orchestral strand and it is by no means a bore. Certainly worth your close attention. This is not its first recording. Marco Polo have it with Symphony No. 2 on 8.223142 with the orchestra and chorus of the Iasy Moldova Philharmonic conducted by Horia Andreescu. That performance plays for 24.39. There is also a recording by the Romanian National Radio Chorus and Orchestra/Horia Andreescu (again!) on Olympia OCD496 although I have not heard it.

Think of the brevity of Voix de la Nature as a sort of 'song of autumn' written crossing the styles of Bernard Herrmann and Frederick Delius although it rises to something approaching the regal brass writing of Albéric Magnard in his symphonies.

A very approachable anthology attracting both the curious and those on a limited budget. Concise notes in the usual three languages.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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