Enescu: Symphony No. 1 in E flat; Suite No. 3 (Villageoise)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Symphony No. 1 in E flat; Suite No. 3 (Villageoise)
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Concert life may have left Enescu on the fringe, but his symphonies, and especially No. 2, ought to be on any explorer’s shortlist. No. 1 is engagingly formative: The Ring vies with Brahms in orchestral textures that recall Chausson and even Elgar. For all its beauties of the moment, the music pulls against its format, as though unwilling to be a symphony, and the eventual impact is diffuse.


In just four years Enescu found focus and exhilaration. The long, taut and restless spans of No. 2 culminate in high dramatic conflict with a nail-biting, last-second resolution like a musical pyrrhic victory. This thriller-movie of a symphony still wasn’t his moment of personal fulfilment. The mature voice of the Suite No. 3 and the Overture, like Janácek’s, has a rooted character and speaks in leaner, less grandiose ways – the Suite is full of freshly heard sounds and nature poetry.


Rozhdestvensky’s easy-going performances and ample acoustic indulge the music but don’t galvanise or clarify it. Lascae draws playing of great spirit from a less slick band with real local character and the sound is warm and lucid. Robert Maycock