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George Enescu

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GEORGE ENESCU plays Beethoven and Ravel ∙ 20 Interviews

CD 1

1∙6. Radio announcements in French
2-5. Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30, No. 2 [25:12]

I. Allegro con brio (measures 1-4 missing) [07:35]
II. Adagio cantabile [09:09]
III. Scherzo. Allegro – Trio [02:57]
VI. Finale. Allegro [05:30]
George Enescu (vln)
Georges de Lausnay (pn)

Recorded ∙ 17 June 1948 ∙ Paris ∙ Salle de l’ancien Conservatoire ∙ Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française ∙ Live Recording

7-12. Beethoven: Septet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 [35:47]
I. Adagio – Allegro con brio [07:49]
II. Adagio cantabile [10:15]
III. Tempo di minuetto [03:21]
IV. Tema con variazioni [05:09]
V. Scherzo [02:06]
VI. Andante con moto alla marcia – Presto [07:05]
13. Ravel: Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet & String Quartet [10:40]
Recorded ∙ 01 March 1951 ∙ Paris ∙ Salle de l’ancien Conservatoire ∙ Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française ∙ Live Recording
George Enescu (vln) ∙ Ulysse Delecluse (cl) ∙ Georges Alès (vln) ∙ Pierre Jamet (hp) ∙ Fernand Oubradous (bassoon) ∙ Gaston Marchesini (vlc) ∙ Jean Devémy (hrn) ∙ Gaston Crunelle (fl) ∙ Henri Moreau (double bass)

CD 2 ∙ This is a data CD with files recorded in MP3 format. It can be played by a PC or modern CD device.

1-20. 20 Entretiens avec George Enescu ∙ 20 interviews with George Enescu in French
Présentateur et producteur ∙ Bernard Gavoty ∙ 1952
25 January 1952 ∙ 1er ∙ naissance en Roumanie, l’enfance [22:14]
01 February 1952 ∙ 2ème ∙ les débuts [13:39]
08 February 1952 ∙ 3ème ∙ premiers essais de composition [16:41]
15 February 1952 ∙ 4ème ∙ Vienne, fantômes et vivants [16:23]
28 February 1952 ∙ 5ème ∙ deuxième apprentissage a Vienne [17:16]
29 February 1952 ∙ 6ème ∙ au conservatoire de Paris en 1895 [20:17]
07 March 1952 ∙ 7ème ∙ les classes au Conservatoire de Paris [14:51]
14 March 1952 ∙ 8ème ∙ le double talent, compositeur et violoniste [16:16]
21 March 1952 ∙ 9ème ∙ heurs et malheurs de sa vie de compositeur [21:27]
28 March 1952 ∙ 10ème ∙ son ennemi intime, le violon [13:48]
04 April 1952 ∙ 11ème ∙ sur l’estrade [13:01]
18 April 1952 ∙ 12ème ∙ ses Dieux [19:03]
02 May 1952 ∙ 13ème ∙ les deux guerres [15:29]
25 April 1952 ∙ 14ème ∙ il rève à Oedipe [12:19]
02 May 1952 ∙ 15ème ∙ à propos de l’Opéra Oedipe [17:09]
09 May 1952 ∙ 16ème ∙ Yehudi Menuhin [14:06]
16 May 1952 ∙ 17ème ∙ de l’estrade au papier règlé [14:52]
23 May 1952 ∙ 18ème ∙ comment il compose [14:38]
30 May 1952 ∙ 19ème entretien ∙ les grands hommes dans sa carrière [16:42]
06 June 1952 ∙ 20ème entretien ∙ Enesco intime [19:15]

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“I have only one language: music. I try to speak it.” – George Enescu

He described “the sound of burning applause which, since the evening of my first concert, I seemed to hear in its monotonous rattling something like, you will be a virtuoso, and you will remain one – whether you like it or not. You will be a virtuoso, virtuoso, virtuoso.” This conflict was to stay with Enescu for his whole and raises the question of the identity of the virtuoso-composer in the twentieth century. Enescu’s musical life was characterized by a tension which existed between his performing schedule and his need to compose. His two-fold career amounted to a double burden similar to that borne by Liszt, who wrote in Weimar in 1853: “So long as I am applauded as a pianist, I won’t be taken seriously as a composer.” In 1895, pursuing his desire to study composition, and also following the natural flow of talented musicians at that time, Enescu entered the Paris Conservatoire. Here he studied composition alongside Ravel, Ducasse and Boulanger, and performance alongside Thibaud, Flesch and the pianist Cortot. Enescu immediately immersed himself in the composition classes of Fauré, Massenet and particularly the counterpoint classes of André Gédalge (1856-1926).

Enescu’s struggle to divide his time between the violin and composing continued through these years at the Paris Conservatoire. He describes violin lessons with Martin Pierre Marsick (1847-1924) as not leaving him with any lasting memories and instead claims to be first and foremost Gédalge’s pupil. From Gédalge, Enescu reinforced his own doctrine that “music is in its essence a matter of musical lines, of expressive statements which can be developed, contrasted and superimposed.” It therefore came as some relief to Enescu when, in 1897, a broken finger excluded him from participating in the upcoming Paris Conservatoire violin competition. This gave him some blissful time in which to complete his Poéme Roumain (1897). The success of this orchestral piece, which was to become the of Enescu’s mature Opus numbers, however inhibited Enescu’s career as a violinist. While at its first performance in Bucharest in 1898 Enescu was immediately hailed a figure of national importance, in Paris it served to arouse suspicion in Paris. Enescu recalled: “The favorable reception by the public and the press of my first work gave me pleasure. I had less pleasure when I found out this small success delayed by a year the awarding of my violin prize. The truth is that I was learning a rather bitter truth which one cannot escape people don’t like someone with two trades.”

In the opening decade of the twentieth century Enescu established a routine which he was to follow for the rest of his life. He usually spent the summer in Romania but based most of his professional activities in Paris. He made impressive debuts in Berlin in 1902, in London in 1903 and in Russia in 1910, the year in which he performed all the Beethoven violin sonatas with Edouard Risler in Paris. During the World War I, he was in Rumania working in a hospital but in the years 1915–16 he gave a series of recitals and illustrated talks in Bucharest on the history of the violin. It was here that much of his chamber music was performed; Casals, Cortot, Thibaud and Casella were all loyal colleagues. Enescu formed two piano trios during this period (the most famous was with Alfredo Casella and cellist Louis Fournier), which also saw the brief blossoming of the Enesco Quartet. He also maintained a connection with Eugene Ysaye, although their meetings were few. Enescu is the dedicatee of Ysaye’s solo violin sonata Ballade (1924) which is the most popular of the six solo sonatas.

In 1923 he began regular tours to the United States as a violinist, conductor and teacher. This led him in 1925 to Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999). Through Menuhin we have been granted the privilege of many Enescu recordings, and their concerts together remain among the most treasured performances of the twentieth century. Enescu’s American masterclasses have been faithfully transcribed and provide an invaluable teaching legacy. America’s hospitality did not go unnoticed by Enescu, who reported: “I was simply delighted when America welcomed me first as a composer and only afterwards as conductor and violinist. I was first and foremost awarded the title of composer, which was the supreme bliss for me.”

During World War II Enescu returned once again to Romania where he made several valuable recordings (including those of the second and third violin sonatas) with his it had been Enescu’s dream to buy a plot of land in Romania for his godson, Dinu Lipatti. (which he later did, in the village of Cumpatu, near Sinaia) and spend his days composing: However, the two world wars, two subsequent devaluations of currency and the barbarity of the post-World War Il communist regime saw his dream destroyed, along with the royal legacy of his wife, the Romanian Princess Maria Cantacuzino. Enescu and Maruca (as she was known to her friends) lost everything and the composer was forced for financial reasons, to remain on the concert stage. This he did, despite suffering from curvature of the spine and loss of hearing.

In the immediate post-war years he recorded the Bach solo sonatas and partitas. In Bucharest in 1945 he conducted the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with David Oistrakh as soloist. He also conducted the Rumanian premiere of Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 7 (The Leningrad). There was a happy association with Oistrakh playing the Bach Double Concerto with him in Moscow in 1946 when he also conducted symphonies by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and accompanied Oistrakh in a violin sonata by Grieg. The Soviet Union loved him but he objected to Communism and refused to return. Enescu’s final decades were devoted largely to chamber music (although he did also write his Concert Overture, Third Orchestral Suite, Symphonies Three and Four, and Vox Maris). His third violin sonata (1926) begins his late series of chamber works which also includes his Piano Quintet (1940), Second Piano Quartet (1944), Second String Quartet (1951) and his last work, the Chamber Symphony (1954) which was completed with the help or his friend Marcel Mihalovici. With Yvonne Astruc, and her husband Marcel Ciampi, Pierre Monteux, Enescu founded the noted Institute Instrumental in Paris. Enescu generously gave away the fruit of his brilliant thinking in the series of lectures held at this institute in Paris, in Yvonne Astruc’s salon (where Pierre Monteux was giving lectures on conducting, and Marcel Ciampi on piano playing). Enescu held masterclasses at the Yvonne Astruc Instrumental Institute in 1947 which had a varied audience of musicians, art critics, and amateurs, but especially young violinist. Bernard Gavoty remembered: “I have witnessed many of those masterclasses and I never heard Enescu give virtuosity lessons. Never. He wasn’t interested. From the very beginning, he knew how to reach into the deepness of the work, to offer the essential in formulas that were full of charm.”

Ill-health had crept up upon him. He was now bent and small and he lived in Paris in one room, narrow and white-washed with one luxury, a piano. The world showed no interest in him. In 1954 he was asked to teach at Chigi Academy in Siena but he so weak he had to spend all day in bed to take the early evening courses. Sadly he became paralysed on the left side and a cripple. He died in Paris on 4 May, 1955. He was 74.

Enescu was recognized during his life as a violinist, conductor, teacher and pianist. While his multiple skills created confusion over his public identity, Noel Malcolm regards them as being “simply the partial expressions of a single, extraordinary, total musicality of mind.”

Notes by Michael Waiblinger, © 2014

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Article number: MC 2022 ∙ Double CD
UPC barcode: 791154054123
Recording dates: 1948-1952
Release date: March 2015
Total timing: CD 1: 73:54 ∙ CD 2: 05h:30m

Producer and Audio Restoration: Lynn Ludwig
Booklet Notes: Michael Waiblinger
Design: Alessia Issara
Photographs: Boris Lipnitzki
With special thanks to Allan Evans
From the Original Masters ∙ © 2015 Meloclassic