George ENESCU (1881–1955)
Childhood Impressions
Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Major, Op. 2 (1897) [22:00]
Violin Sonata No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 6 (1899) [19:40]
Impressions d'enfance, Op. 28 (1940) [22:02]
Stefan Tarara (violin)
Lora Vakova-Tarara (piano)
rec. Immanuelskirche, Wuppertal, Germany, 8-11 February 2016

This release follows on from The Sound of the 20s (ARS38179 - review) which featured Enescu's Third Sonata. Here this young couple turn their attention to the remaining major works for violin and piano and feature some impassioned playing.

The disc opens with the Violin Sonata No. 1, the earliest of Enescu’s major compositions for the medium. Only the two short pieces, Ballade and Tarantelle, pre-date it, both from 1895. Whilst the Sonata is a greatly accomplished work, especially for a sixteen year old, it does lack the panache and bravura of his more mature works. Although composed only two years later, there is a marked progression between the Violin Sonata No. 2, which is presented next, and the First. It reflects more of a sense of things to come.

For me however it is the final work on this disc, the wonderful Impressions d’Enfance, which is one of the composer’s finest pieces. It is the strongest piece on this disc. It has had some fine interpretations, not least those by Mihaela Martin and Roland Pöntinen (BIS-1216 CD) and Remus Azoitei and Eduard Stan (Hänssler CD 98.035). Whilst this present disc might not be as insightful as Martin and Pöntinen it has a lot to offer. I have always thought it a shame that Bis didn’t give Martin and Pöntinen the chance to record the rest of Enescu’s wonderful music. As for Azoitei and Stan they give some excellent performances, especially of the First and “Torso” Sonatas. Here Stefan Tarara and Lora Vakova-Tarara are in their element. It is in this later music that they excel. Just listen for example to the playing of the fourth piece, L’oiseau en cage et le coucou au mur, with its tangible feeling of longing of the caged bird wanting to join those in the wild.

On this disc these two musicians present a thought-provoking renditions, ones which if not the best are certainly close. I find the sound to be a bit bright on the odd occasion but on the whole this is a pleasing recording; one which I am happy to have on my shelf.

Stuart Sillitoe

Previous review: Stephen Greenbank

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