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George ENESCU (1881-1955)
Three Suites for Solo Piano
Suite No. 1 in G minor (Dans le stile ancien) Op. 3 (1897) [19:46]
Suite No. 2 in D major, Op. 10 (1901/1903) [22:21]
Suite No. 3 (Pièces impromptus) Op. 18 (1913-1916) [36.54]
Luiza Borac, piano
Recorded 23-30 March, 2003 in the Stadttheater, Lindau, Germany DDD
AVIE AV0013 [79:06]

 

George Enescu was possessed of one of the greatest musical minds in the history of the art. His abilities were fourfold in that he was a world-class violinist, pianist, conductor and composer. Add to this his impressive roster of famous students and his unanimous reputation as one of the kindest and most generous of mentors and one must only marvel that this brilliant artist died in poverty with only a bed and a chair to his name, too proud to take money from any number of willing colleagues and friends.

His musical prowess was legendary. He had a photographic memory, and performed such feats as playing Ravel’s newly written violin sonata from memory after only one reading. He rehearsed and conducted Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste at sight, and no lesser pianist than Alfred Cortot marveled that Enescu, a violinist, had a better technique at the keyboard than Cortot himself.

I have opined in these virtual pages before that George Enescu is one of the great-unsung compositional talents of the last century, and these splendid recordings played by a youthful and talented Luiza Borac serve only to strengthen my case. Avie, a newish label on the scene, acquits itself very well by presenting a beautifully recorded, excellently annotated and packaged recording that is certain to please any lover of fine piano playing.

The opening work, the suite in the style of the baroque dance suite, would have made even so stern a master as Sebastian Bach proud. Opening with a lush grave we as soon treated to a splendid three-voice fugue, followed by a lyrical movement and a gallant allegro ending, most reminiscent of the final movement of Bach’s Italian Concerto. Little is marked in the way of either tempi or dynamics, but it is evident from the harmonic devices that some modern pedaling is needed to carry off the long sustained bass notes.

Suite number two is more lush and lyrical and in a decidedly more romantic style. It is melodically fluid, and on the whole is a joyful work, reflecting the happiness that the composer experienced while in Paris. The third suite is considerably more complex, with markings so complicated, frequent and meticulous that the performer practically needs a glossary to interpret them. The pianist comments in her fine and detailed program note that she found it as necessary to devote time to studying the markings as she did practicing the notes.

Luiza Borac is a fine pianist indeed, and although still young in her career, turns in very well crafted and sincere performances. The intricate counterpoint of the opening baroque style suite is certainly not lost on her, and she is able to interpret a romantic piece with the kind of baroque sense of style that makes this tribute to past masters work. In the more romantic second suite, she plays with a rich tone and brings out the lovely melodies and inner harmonies with great style and finesse. The immensely virtuosic final suite receives a spectacular performance. Ms. Borac has technique to burn and an obvious passion for this music of her native land.

Sound quality is terrific and the notes are well written and interesting. This disc gives further cause to champion the music of this remarkable musician. Highly recommended.

Kevin Sutton

See also review by Rob Barnett

 

 



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