A treasure island of piano music — Spiegel Online
The Grand Piano label continues to uncover gems of the piano repertoire. — Fanfare

ENESCU, George (1881-1955)

COMPLETE WORKS FOR SOLO PIANO • 1


  • Josu de Solaun, piano

This first of three discs devoted to George Enescu’s piano music presents three significant pieces. Indebted to Romanian folk music and in three large sections, the ruminative yet striking Nocturne in D flat is a work of shifting sonorities and moods. The Pièces impromptues, Op. 18 are independent, unrelated character pieces that illuminate once again the composer’s fascination with the indigenous music of Romania. The Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 24, No. 1 is – by contrast – a massive statement characterised by harmonic surprises, innovative techniques, insistent rhythms and, in the final, slow movement, the doina, a type of Romanian song at once contemplative, nostalgic and melancholic.

Visit the ALBUM MINI-SITE

Tracklist

1
Nocturne in D-Flat Major (1907) (00:19:07)
 
Pièces impromptues, Op. 18, "Suite No. 3" (1916) (00:25:00 )
2
I. Mélodie (00:03:15)
3
II. Voix de la steppe (00:03:20)
4
III. Mazurk mélancolique (00:05:28)
5
IV. Burlesque (00:05:34)
6
V. Appassionato (00:04:51)
7
VI. Choral (00:07:16)
8
VII. Carillon nocturne (00:06:52)
 
Piano Sonata No. 1 in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 24, No. 1 (1924) (00:25:00 )
9
I. Allegro molto moderato e grave (00:11:05)
10
II. Presto vivace (00:04:40)
11
III. Andante molto espressivo (00:07:38)
Total Time: 01:19:06

The Artist

Pianist Josu De Solaun is the First Prize winner of the XIII George Enescu International Piano Competition in Bucharest (previous winners include the legendary pianists Radu Lupu and Elisabeth Leonskaja) and the XV José Iturbi International Piano Competition. He has been invited to perform in distinguished concert series throughout the world, having made notable appearances in Bucharest (Romanian Athenaeum), St Petersburg (Mariinsky Theatre), Washington DC (Kennedy Center), New York (Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera), London (Southbank Centre), Paris (Salle Cortot), Mexico City (Sala Silvestre Revueltas), and all major cities of Spain.

www.josudesolaun.com

The Composer

The greatest of Romanian musicians, George Enescu was equally remarkable as a violinist and as a composer. He contributed significantly to the development of music in his own country, although much of his activity centred on Paris, where he was a pupil of Marsick and for composition of Fauré and Massenet. His violin pupils include Grumiaux, Ferras, Gitlis and Menuhin.

Despite early success, notably the two Romanian Rhapsodies [Naxos 8.550327], his work found real appreciation only among a small number of musicians and admirers. Prolific in his youth, during which he pursued studies first in Vienna then in Paris, the demands of performance and administration, not to mention upheaval in his personal life and in his beloved Romania, slowed his creativity so that he was able to complete only a handful of major compositions after the First World War. Yet the sheer quality of these works, which amalgamate his understanding of the classical masters with the achievement of the French and German romanticists, while transcending stereotypical notions of radical and conservative, has seen a gradual resurgence of interest over the past three decades.

Chamber music

Chamber music was a prominent feature of Enescu’s music from his earliest years. Along with his two cello sonatas [Naxos 8.570582], there are four extant violin sonatas, two string quartets [Naxos 8.554721], two piano quartets [the second on Naxos 8.557159], a piano quintet [Naxos 8.557159], piano trio, string octet, and wind decatet [Naxos 8.554173], as well as shorter pieces for various combinations.

Orchestral Music

Although much that he wrote may be of greater musical significance, Enescu's most popular composition is the Romanian Rhapsody No. 1.

Reviews

Melómano (Spain)

“…whether because of the unusual programme or the superb interpretations offered by Solaun, we are faced with a collection of music that needs to be listened to, an essential album that promises to delight even the most demanding music lover. ” – Melómano (Spain)

Scherzo

“Full recommendation for these completely outstanding albums, thanks to the indisputable merit of a communicator who is so thoroughly engaged with the music he plays.” – Scherzo

BBC Music Magazine

“[…] Josu de Solaun makes a seriously persuasive case for the varied and absorbing piano music in these three discs. […] De Solaun never makes heavy weather of Enescu’s demanding writing, but lets expression lead at all times, no matter how intense the virtuosity. There’s a bouncy vitality to his playing, a warm and intimate approach to phrasing and beautifully mellow tone quality.” – BBC Music Magazine

“…the upper voice (right hand) makes the notes sound as bright and clear as if precious pearls were presented on a velvet cloth. In contrast, the left hand bursts as an indeterminate threat in the deepest depth, which is supported by the extensive use of the pedal. The interpretation is never mawkish, despite great sound variations, but always stays under control.” – www.klassik.com

“De Solaun’s technique is excellent ” – American Record Guide

Ritmo

“I assure you that the results of this album are amazing.” – Ritmo

“Winner of both the Enescu and Iturbi International Piano Competitions, the Spanish pianist, Josu De Solaun brings clarity to Enescu’s density and shape where it is all too easy to meander. The first of three discs, the sound is outstanding, and I ask you to explore a unique musical voice that is unjustly neglected.” – David Denton