Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hey Mr Conductor! Part 3

Want some kudos as a scholar? Why, Georghe Enescu's First Symphony is just for you. Programme it with the Romanian Rhapsodies 1 and 2 and see what gets more of a thumbs up. This early work (1907) is contemporary with Elgar's Second and is not dissimilar to it in tone and harmonic language; Carpathian flavours aren't around yet - much. It's virile, sexy music by a young artist in full control of his gift (or one of them - Enescu (1881-1955) had been a child prodigy only slightly less incredible than Mozart). His symphonies are seen as technically flawless but 'difficult' and the beautiful, profound Second weighs in at 56 minutes. But the first gets it done in a little over half-an-hour. The first movement's a rumbustious piece of writing with a particularly thrilling climax; the second is an adagio that disappoints only because it's short, or feels so. It runs usually to 13 minutes but could do with being half as long again, so expert is Enescu's handling of its falling three-note motif (a little like Three Blind Mice in the minor), while the finale recaps most of the foregoing material in intense and busy fashion. Like bolting a great big sachertorte all at once - you know it's bad for you, but what the hell.
Recordings: Andreescu (Marco Polo), Rozhdestvensky (Chandos), Mandeal (Arte Nova)
Comparable repertoire: Rachmaninov 2
Like this? Try these: Holbrooke, Ulalume; Karlowicz, Symphony in E minor

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