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Sonata No.3 for Piano and Violin Op.25 dans le caractère populaire roumain

George Enescu (b. 1881 - d. 1955)

Nurit Stark (photo credit: Uwe Neumann)

Nurit Stark (photo credit: Uwe Neumann)

Composer
George Enescu (b. 1881 - d. 1955)
Composition Year
1926
Work Movements
1. Moderato malinconico
2. Andante sostenuto e misterioso
3. Allegro con brio, ma non troppo mosso
Artists
Nurit Stark [violin], Cédric Pescia [piano]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

The most extraordinary human being, the greatest musician and the most formative influence I have ever encountered. Yehudi Menuhin on George Enescu

George Enescu came from the Moldavian region on the border of Romania. He divided his life between an international performance career based in Paris and an active involvement in Romanian music. Like so many performer-composers he was also equally conflicted between the demands of composing, performing, promoting and teaching. His busy life as teacher, virtuoso and organiser allowed him little time for his creative work. As a violinist his repertoire ranged from Bach to his own works, most of them played from memory. It is also said that he could conduct the complete works of Wagner without a score.

In this work, one of the great sonatas of the twentieth century, he evokes the styles of Romanian folk music, something akin to the way Bartók used his immersion in Hungarian folk music to colour his compositions. Enescu never resorted to simply quoting or ornamenting traditional music, he recreates and transfigures it into a new and mysterious world of its own. This prodigiously subtle, infinitely rich, sorrowfully sensitive sonata is full of memories of childhood and homeland, magnified by time and nostalgia.

He presented Romanian music as a fund of modern styles: rhapsodic parlando rubato, rich ornamentation, clashing intervals of a second, quarter-tones, unusual playing techniques and a range of expression from the expectantly smouldering to the extravagantly impassioned. This enables the listener to gain spontaneous emotional access to the remarkable variety of the music. The violin makes much use of harmonics and portamento, while the piano is at times made to sound like a cimbalom, especially in the mysterious middle movement. Melodic augmented seconds abound, reminding one both of Romania's long subjection to the Turks and of her very large gypsy population.

The wonderful meditative dialogue that opens the first movement conjures a world a long way from the classical violin sonata. It whispers and sings and even dances, it seems like a totally free improvisation but we grow to realise that this extreme freedom is rigorously managed. In his determination to catch the spirit of Romanian music, Enescu developed what was virtually a new language of violin writing with extraordinarily detailed instructions and even the ornamentation elaborately notated. When combined with the frequent fluctuations of rhythm, tempo and mood, the result is a score brimming with expressive markings.

The great pianist Cortot, who discussed and played the work with Enescu, described the slow movement as an evocation in sound of the mysterious feeling of summer nights in Romania: below, the silent endless deserted plain; above, constellations leading off into infinity. The movement opens with the piano repeating the same notes and the violin playing distant harmonies. This magical summer night gradually disintegrates and a frenzied dance takes over, eventually bursting out in ecstatic climaxes, before sinking back into the murmuring, magical night. The finale begins almost normally with a regular folk dance but this too disintegrates into apparent improvisation, wild outcries, frenzied hammerings ending in a tearing explosion of sound.

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Sonata No.3 for Piano and Violin Op.25 dans le caractère populaire roumain

Composer: George Enescu (b. 1881 - d. 1955)
Performance date: Sunday 29th June 2014
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer George Enescu (b. 1881 - d. 1955)
Work Title Sonata No.3 for Piano and Violin Op.25 dans le caractère populaire roumain
Composition Year 1926
Work Movements 1. Moderato malinconico
2. Andante sostenuto e misterioso
3. Allegro con brio, ma non troppo mosso
Artist(s) Nurit Stark [violin], Cédric Pescia [piano]
Performance Date Sunday 29th June 2014
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Main Evening Concert
Duration 00:25:08
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTE
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation vn, pf
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

The most extraordinary human being, the greatest musician and the most formative influence I have ever encountered. Yehudi Menuhin on George Enescu

George Enescu came from the Moldavian region on the border of Romania. He divided his life between an international performance career based in Paris and an active involvement in Romanian music. Like so many performer-composers he was also equally conflicted between the demands of composing, performing, promoting and teaching. His busy life as teacher, virtuoso and organiser allowed him little time for his creative work. As a violinist his repertoire ranged from Bach to his own works, most of them played from memory. It is also said that he could conduct the complete works of Wagner without a score.

In this work, one of the great sonatas of the twentieth century, he evokes the styles of Romanian folk music, something akin to the way Bartók used his immersion in Hungarian folk music to colour his compositions. Enescu never resorted to simply quoting or ornamenting traditional music, he recreates and transfigures it into a new and mysterious world of its own. This prodigiously subtle, infinitely rich, sorrowfully sensitive sonata is full of memories of childhood and homeland, magnified by time and nostalgia.

He presented Romanian music as a fund of modern styles: rhapsodic parlando rubato, rich ornamentation, clashing intervals of a second, quarter-tones, unusual playing techniques and a range of expression from the expectantly smouldering to the extravagantly impassioned. This enables the listener to gain spontaneous emotional access to the remarkable variety of the music. The violin makes much use of harmonics and portamento, while the piano is at times made to sound like a cimbalom, especially in the mysterious middle movement. Melodic augmented seconds abound, reminding one both of Romania's long subjection to the Turks and of her very large gypsy population.

The wonderful meditative dialogue that opens the first movement conjures a world a long way from the classical violin sonata. It whispers and sings and even dances, it seems like a totally free improvisation but we grow to realise that this extreme freedom is rigorously managed. In his determination to catch the spirit of Romanian music, Enescu developed what was virtually a new language of violin writing with extraordinarily detailed instructions and even the ornamentation elaborately notated. When combined with the frequent fluctuations of rhythm, tempo and mood, the result is a score brimming with expressive markings.

The great pianist Cortot, who discussed and played the work with Enescu, described the slow movement as an evocation in sound of the mysterious feeling of summer nights in Romania: below, the silent endless deserted plain; above, constellations leading off into infinity. The movement opens with the piano repeating the same notes and the violin playing distant harmonies. This magical summer night gradually disintegrates and a frenzied dance takes over, eventually bursting out in ecstatic climaxes, before sinking back into the murmuring, magical night. The finale begins almost normally with a regular folk dance but this too disintegrates into apparent improvisation, wild outcries, frenzied hammerings ending in a tearing explosion of sound.