Enuscu

COMPOSERS: Enuscu
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Enuscu
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 3; Nocturne in D flat; Prelude & Fugue in C; Scherzo; Pièce sur le nom de Fauré
PERFORMER: Luiza Borac (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2081
Luiza Borac has already proved her credentials as an Enescu player of the first order in the initial volume of Avie’s enterprising series; this double album is even more impressive. Though it focuses on Enescu’s First and Third Sonatas (he several times performed a Second, but it died with him, never written down), perhaps the most astonishing piece is the D flat Nocturne of 1907, a 20-minute outpouring of ecstatic, languorous exfoliation whose lush ornamentation, if inspired by Romanian folk music, looks far beyond Ravel to, of all people, Sorabji, as Martin Anderson’s liner notes justly observe. The contrast with the discreetly and reverently Bachian Prelude and Fugue of three years before could hardly be greater.

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The two Sonatas of 1924 and 1934 are works of wisdom and synthesis, the First distinguished by its tranced slow finale, evoking the resonance of bells across the plain – a deeply moving movement. In the Third, which Dinu Lipatti memorably recorded, Apollonian lightness and classicism give way to a slow movement that is another songful, passionate nocturne and a finale that sweeps everything up into a process of transcendental development. It is very curious to note (and Anderson is also spot-on here) that one of the finale’s themes is, precisely, the subject of the last of Shostakovich’s Op. 87 fugues, not written till 1948. Altogether a set to place Enescu among the great piano composers, superbly played and recorded – and vehemently recommended!

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Calum MacDonald