Enescu: Violin Sonata No. 2; Violin Sonata No. 3; Romanian Rhapsody No. 1

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LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 2; Violin Sonata No. 3; Romanian Rhapsody No. 1
PERFORMER: Susanne Stanzeleit (violin), Julian Jacobson (piano)
Enescu’s early Second Sonata and mature, characteristically idiosyncratic Third both deserve to be better known than they are – the Second is a minor masterpiece of dapper post-Fauréan aplomb, the other a major work of ecstatic and pungent folkloric stylisation. They used to be rarely encountered on disc but several fine versions have been issued in recent years (on BIS and Hyperion, to name but two). Yet Stanzeleit and Jacobson are just as competitive: they bring a spirited eloquence to these performances, revelling in the sonatas’ virtuoso demands as well as their atmospheric lyricism, and they’re recorded in a pleasantly natural ambience. Whereas the Oprean duo (on Hyperion) couples the sonatas with the unfinished Sonata torso Enescu wrote between them, and Mihaela Martin and Roland Pöntinen (on BIS) add the later and marvellous Impressions d’enfance, Stanzeleit and Jacobson introduce another rarity. Paradoxically it’s the First Romanian Rhapsody – a work much better known than either sonata, at least in its original form for orchestra or, increasingly now, Enescu’s solo piano arrangement. As far as I’m aware this is the first recording of the violin/piano arrangement by Marcel Stern, a highly appropriate medium since the Rhapsody was founded on violin tunes the composer had heard in his childhood. Highly recommendable. Calum MacDonald