George Enescu: Complete Works for Cello and Piano / Radutiu, Rundberg


Cellist Valentin Radutiu and pianist Per Rundberg perform on this two CD set from Hänssler Classic of the complete works for cello and piano by George Enescu. Called by Pablo Casals, "the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart", violinist, pianist, conductor, teacher and composer George Ensecu (1881-1955) is the pride of Romania. At seven years of age, he became the youngest student ever accepted by the Vienna Conservatory, a four-year curriculum immediately followed by four more at the Paris Conservatory. Orchestral works and chamber music were the primary genres he worked in as a composer and as teacher, he counted Yehudi Menuhin, Christian Ferras, Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux and Ida Haendel among his students.

In the early years in Paris, Enescu produced a significant body of chamber works, and it was during this time his interest in the cello emerged. The Cello Sonata No. 1, Op. 26/1 is from this period, as are two works on the recording that frame the two cello sonatas; both of these are from 1897. Opening the program is an orphaned sonata movement, Allegro in F minor (rediscovered only a few years ago and appearing here in its world-premiere recording) and concluding it is Nocturne et Saltearello. These pieces typify Enescu's early period, a fusion of French and German styles rooted in romanticism. They are harmonically and melodically lush and satisfying with nothing that could offend even the most conservative listener.

Contrasting these early pieces is the Cello Sonata No. 2, Op. 26/2. Written some thirty-five years later, it finds Enescu firmly in his mature style, which is strikingly far afield from the sound of the earlier sonata. Now we can hear influences of the aesthetic upheaval that took place in the first decades of the 20th century as well as the important role Romanian folk music had come to play in Enescu's music.

The album sample in the sidebar, the final Presto movement of the First Cello Sonata, is from Enescu's early period. In addition to the work's unmistakable Romantic era foundation, we can hear neo-baroque structures and techniques at play. We can also hear the extraordinary musicianship of these two performers. Cellist Valentin Radutiu studied with David Geringas and is a long-time student of Heinrich Schiff; he plays with a deep, rich tone and is sensitively support by pianist Per Rundberg. This very beautiful recording should have considerable appeal outside the inner circle of chamber musicians, cellists and cello aficionados.

Enjoy the additional video sample below - not the music of Enescu, but a brilliant display of these two artists' talent.

Wieniawski Scherzo Tarantelle Op. 16 - Valentin Radutiu, cello; Per Rundberg, piano