Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

George ENESCU (1881-1955)
Piano Quintet, Op. 29, (1940) [35:12]
Piano Quartet No. 2, Op. 30 (1943-44) [27:47]
The Solomon Ensemble: Anne Solomon, violin I; Andrew Roberts, violin II; Ralf Ehlers, viola; Rebecca Gilliver, cello; Dominic Saunders, piano
Recorded at Potton Hall, Suffolk, England from 22-24 September, 2001 DDD
NAXOS 8.557159 [62:58]

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Hailed in his lifetime as a virtuoso violinist, Romanian George Enescu struggled throughout his career to become more accepted as a composer. The early success of his Romanian Rhapsodies boded well for the young man, but his reputation as a soloist overshadowed his ability with the pen for the greater part of his life. If ever there was a composer who was more deserving of wider acclaim, Enescu is that man. The more that I hear of his music, the more that I want to hear. His is one of the most original and captivating voices of the late romantic and early twentieth century periods.

A man of phenomenal musical abilities, he was the textbook example of the complete musician. Possessed of a photographic memory, he is said to have committed the complete works of J.S. Bach to memory, and was able to capture complete works on his mental ‘hard-drive’ after only one or two readings. Heavily influenced by his time in France, the mark of Ravel and Fauré is stamped indelibly on his work, but the gypsy yearning and picturesque folklore of his east-European homeland is never far from the surface. His is not music that is particularly tuneful, and one is hard-pressed to leave whistling any particular tune or theme. It is, however, music of tremendous atmosphere and the palette of tonal hue is immense.

So what can one expect from this disc of mature chamber music? Works that are as captivating as the very best black and white photography. There are subtle variations of shadow and light. Bold gestures stand out against a stark background; wonders lurk in the shadows that require a certain bravery to explore. This is chamber music in its ideal guise, every instrument playing a vital role, but no single player monopolizing the center stage.

And what of the playing? These are performances of uncommon aplomb. The Solomon Ensemble gets to the heart of these works, and these renditions are captivating from the very first note. The listener is drawn into this recital in the way he might expect to be captivated by a film noir. He is afraid of the dark, but defiantly curious as to what lies under its cloak. Perfectly balanced and breathlessly atmospheric, this is some of the finest music making that I have heard in some time. With the substantial number of discs that I receive, there is little time for repeated listening. This disc has captivated my attention for some days now and I have returned to it often, the thrill never leaving me.

Naxos have given us yet another superbly recorded performance, with a warm, present sound that is never harsh or shrill. Balances between the instruments are captured beautifully, and there is a fine bloom to the sound. Particularly pleasing to these ears is the fact that the piano, while ever setting the rhythmic pace, is never thunderous or overbearing. Keith Anderson and Richard Whitehouse have composed dual sets of program notes, which are concise and informative.

This is yet another jewel in the Naxos crown, and if they keep up this pace, that diadem will be too heavy for Mr. Heymann’s head.

Kevin Sutton

see also review by Hubert Culot



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