Enescu: Symphonie Concertante; Symphony No. 1

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LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Symphonie Concertante; Symphony No. 1
PERFORMER: Truls Mørk (cello); Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra/Hannu Lintu


Both works featured here date from the first few years of the 20th century, a period when the prodigiously gifted George Enescu was yet to find his own compositional voice. Although the Symphonie Concertante of 1901 was written at around the same time as the famous Romanian Rhapsodies, there are few obvious allusions to Eastern European folk music in the virtuosic solo cello line. Instead, a distinctly French colouring underpins much of the harmony, suggesting the guiding hand of Enescu’s teacher Gabriel Fauré, whereas some of the orchestral interjections sound distinctly Brahmsian. Yet for all the panoply of musical influences, it’s an attractive composition, if not especially memorable in terms of melodic ideas. There’s no doubt however that Truls Mørk is an impassioned advocate delivering an intense and committed account of the cello part.

A similar fusion of German and French idioms is heard in the First Symphony of 1905, though by this stage Enescu’s harmonic style is far more chromatic and the elaborate late-Romantic orchestration often has a Straussian opulence. Hannu Lintu secures rhythmically incisive playing from the Tampere Philharmonic in the outer movements, and in general offers a far more dynamic view of the music than Gennady Rozhdestvensky and the BBC Philharmonic’s rather measured and somewhat stolid version on Chandos. Some of the most imaginative writing comes in the central slow movement where Lintu and his Finnish orchestra are in their element, encapsulating to perfection both the mysterious brooding harmonies of the introduction and the more ardent melodic ideas that follow suit.


Erik Levi