Enescu: Impressions d’enfance; Violin Sonata No. 2; Violin Sonata No. 3

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COMPOSERS: Enescu
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Impressions d’enfance; Violin Sonata No. 2; Violin Sonata No. 3
PERFORMER: Mihaela Martin (violin); Roland Pöntinen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1216
I’m not aware that this handy coupling is available elsewhere. Mariana Sirbu and Mihail Sarbu,

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on Dynamic, present Sonatas Nos2 & 3 along with the early and less interesting Sonata No. 1; on Hyperion, Adelina and Justin Oprean couple Nos 2 & 3 with the fascinating ‘Sonata-Torso’ of 1911. The best recording of Impressions d’enfance, by Gidon Kremer and Oleg Maisenberg, couples it with Bartók and Schulhoff on Teldec. And all this before we even consider the distinguished discography of Sonata No. 3, recorded by Enescu himself with Lipatti and also by Menuhin and by Sherban Lupu. But viewing the current field, this new BIS release can be heartily recommended to anyone who wants Enescu’s three most important violin works on one disc. The Romanian Mihaela Martin is finely tuned to every wayward inflection of Enescu’s cornucopic invention, and Pöntinen makes a first-rate duo partner. As for the music – the post-Franckist Sonata No. 2 forms an amiable prelude to the astonishing mix of deliquescent rhapsodising, fantastic night-music and percussive dance that is the No. 3, right up there with the Bartók sonatas as one of the 20th century’s greatest. And the 1940 Impressions d’enfance – memories of childhood by one of the most sophisticated musical minds of its time – further extends the folk-fantasquerie into little miracles of onomatopoeia (hear the wind in the chimney, the bird-imitations) that somehow add up to an under-celebrated classic of the repertoire. Sheer delight.

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Calum MacDonald