early release of Georges Enesco's recording
of Bach's Sonata No. 2
billboard of the first performance of OEDIPE in 1936 in Paris, France.
(Image taken from the documentation accompanying the Electrecord 4 Lp
set of the 1964 recording from Rumania.)
opera will be performed at the opening night of
The George Enescu Festival & Competition, August 30th, 2009.
(Coproduction of the National Opera from Bucharest
and the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse.)
Sonatas for Violin Solo were recorded in 1949 and appeared on the
Continental label. The Sonata No. 2 was released on the Remington
Enesco and pianist Céliny Chailley-Richez performing Schumann's
Sonata Op. 121 on a 10" Remington, R-149-50. Available in May 1952.
Lipatti and Radulesco on Electrecord.
own performance of his Sonata No. 2 with pianist Céliny Chailley-Richez
on R-149-42 (reissued at the end of the nineteen seventies on Varèse
Sarabande VC 81048)
No. 2 and String Quartet No. 2 on Monitor
Gabor had a
box made. It contained a one sided shiny, silvery matrix with
Enesco's two Rumanian Rhapsodies engraved and adorned with the Continental
label to honor Georges Enesco and to commemorate the cooperation and
the importance of the great Rumanian artist.
No. 2 on Electrecord ECD61
Les Preludes conducted by George Singer were coupled on R-149-47 with
Georges Enesco performing his Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1 with l'Orchestre
des Concerts Colonne. The Romanian Rhapsody No. 2 was available on R-149-52,
also conducted by Enesco and had as coupling The Moldau (Smetena) conducted
by Georges Singer. The two rhapsodies were later released again on a
Musirama disc while they were not real Musirama recordings.
the French release of the same coupling on Concerteum 269.
page about pianist Céliny Chailley-Richez on The Remington Site
World Violinists Links
timeline of Georges Enesco's life at the International Enesco Society.
STE 80749: Christian Ferras and Pierre Barbizet play Enesco's Sonata
This sonata was also recorded in 1936 by Yehudi Menuhin and Hepzibah
Menuhin, piano (Victor Set M-318)
- Discover Enesco also on YouTube
is important in art is to vibrate oneself and make others vibrate.
Rhapsody conducted by Sergiu Celibidache
also the extensive discography of Enesco
"Perfection, which is the passion
of so many people, does not interest me. What is important in art
is to vibrate oneself and make others vibrate."
of: "La perfection, qui passionne tant de gens, ne m'intéresse
pas. Ce qui importe, en art, c'est de vibrer soi-même et de
faire vibrer les autres."
Enescu around 1950 when he had already recorded the Sonatas and
Partitas for Violin Solo by Bach for Don Gabor's Continental label
in New York.
well known photograph of Georges Enesco, but this time taken from
the listing on the back of an original Remington cover, edited
and restored. His Romanian signature was taken from the Electrecord
cover of Poème roumain.)
Rhapsodies and Opera Oedip
most people Georges Enescu is mainly known for his Romanian Rhapsody
No. 1 composed at the age of 20. The less popular No. 2
was conceived one year later, in 1902, and is foreboding his later,
more personal style.
Older generations and knowledgeable music lovers remember him not
just as a composer or a conductor but as the great violinist who concertized
in many countries and who educated Arthur Grumiaux, Ivry Gitlis,
Ida Haendel and Christian Ferras, but most of all the name
of Yehudi Menuhin is linked to the famous Romanian.
Enesco composed more than just the Romanian Rhapsodies (the arrangement
for two pianos of No. 1 was also played by the maestro himself; it
is said that Enesco was a gifted pianist and a cellist as well).
He composed 'Romanian Poem' (Poème roumain - Paris, 1897) which
was his first opus, and also Suites for orchestra, Symphonies
(3), Concertos for all kinds of instruments (piano, cello,
etc.), Sonatas for piano, and for violin and piano (3) (which
show the influence of his teacher Gabriel Fauré), and for cello
and piano (2), Octuor for Strings (Octet for Strings, Octet
à cordes), Dixtuor for Wind Instruments, and a Chamber
symphony. And he composed an opera: 'Oedip' (Oedipe, Oedipus)
on a libretto by Edmond Fleg after Sophocles. Igor Strawinsky's
expressive "Oedipus Rex" - which was first performed nine
years earlier in Paris - stands in stark contrast to Enesco's "Oedip".
front of the box of the Electrecord 4 LP Set, ST ECE 0676, with
the recording of Oedip (Oedipe. Edipe) made in the period of April
till June, 1964, in Bucarest. The Orchestra and Chorus of the
Romanian Opera of Bucarest was conducted by Mihai Brediceanu.
Singers were David Ohanesian (baritone), Ioan Hvorov (bass), Dan
Iordachescu (baritone), Valentin Teodorian (tenor), Viorel Ban
(bass), Valentin Loghin (bass), Constantin Gabor (bass), Ladislau
Konya (baritone), Constantin Iliescu (tenor), Elena Cernei (mezzo-soprano),
Zenaida Pally (mezzo-soprano), Maria Sindilaru (soprano), and
Maria Sandulescu (mezzo-soprano).
(From the SoundFountain Archive)
was premiered on March 13, 1936, in Paris, and was well received.
During some ten years off and on George Enescu was occupied with composing,
editing and arranging this opera. This 'lyrical tragedy in four acts'
can well be labeled as Enesco's most important work as a composer.
Far more than his sonatas, his chamber music and other compositions
for chamber ensembles and orchestra, Oedipe can be considered as the
man's pinnacle of the expression of ideas, of drama, of humanity.
It shows that for a long time he put most if not all of his creative
energy in this work which, as individualistic as it may be, breathes
in its themes and orchestration the era it was composed in. It has
a specific flavor and at instances reminds one of the style of Zoltán
Kodály, and of the late romantic, Viennese school, of the new
expressionism as well, and also a French influence is undeniable.
But it is above all Central European in character.
Symphonist Ion Dumitrescu - in an article written in 1961
on Georges Enesco, his compositions and the significance of the famous
Romanian - wrote:
the opera 'Oedipous' the links with Rumanian music are clearly
noticeable, by the turning to account - sometimes in a discreet
way, at other times obviously enough - of its modal, rhythmical,
and intonational forms."
March 13, 1936, Henri Malherbes - author of 'La flamme au poing'
(The Flame in the Fist, The Flame That Is France), and winner of the
Prix Concourt - said that Romania now ranks from the spiritual point
of view with the most advanced countries. About the structure of the
opera he noted:
any expert who examines the score it clearly appears that the
four acts of 'Oidipous' constitute the four movements of a vast
symphony with its Allegro, Andante, Scherzo and Finale. On every
page one discovers new timbre effects, valuable harmony innovations,
an instrumentation of extreme subtlety, a complete renewal of
the musical patterns which have been in use up to our days."
Honegger, creator of the
expressive oratorios 'Le roi David' and 'Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher'
said in an article in Le Figaro Littéraire (1955):
opera is as far from any Wagnerite succedanea as it is from
any Debussyan or Puccinian pastiches (...). It is highly original
and possesses a dramatic force that is simply formidable."
Georges Enesco himself is the following comment:
"It is not up to me to state whether Oidipus
is or is not the most accomplished of my works. But I am fully
entitled to say that it is the one I cherished most... I have
put in it everything that was mine, up to the point of becoming
almost identified with my hero."
Enescu loved the music of Richard Wagner, admired the music of Claude
Debussy and of Giacomo Puccini. The accompanying documentation of
the 1964 Electrecord recording gives ample information about the opera,
the nature of the music, and how the various performances were received.
Plus the libretto in Romanian, French and English. In 1956, one year
after Enesco had died, the opera was performed again in Paris.
Georges Enescu can
not be categorized as a protagonist of a specific style or school.
For that he was too individualistic in character and his compositions
do not have a common signature. Nevertheless he is considered
to be the founder of the first national music movement in Romania
after it came into existence in 1861 and was officially recognized
as a country by foreign powers in 1878.
few of Enesco's works do have a popular nature and are loved
by many as they fall into the category of music for millions.
His opera Oedipe is a masterpiece, but much of his music, specifically
his chamber music, often has a gloomy character and is not easily
accessible and understandable. Its nature indicates a contradictory
personality, a searching soul, but most of all it shows a vulnerable
the variety in his oeuvre shows that the man was a many faceted
artist, it is difficult to grasp the complex nature of this
talented musician, of the disciplined, hard working man who
divided his energy between conducting, teaching, performing
as a soloist, and composing.
He must have put a spell on his audience when performing in
the concert hall, when teaching at the conservatory and when
conducting a master class. Only those who did meet the maestro,
and those who worked with him, did experience this and often
gave testimony of the impact.
it not for Donald Gabor's Continental recordings, it would all
be hearsay and being the teacher of great talents would have
been Enesco's major and great significance.
Despite the many articles, biographies, references and his own
recordings (many are of historical significance only), Georges
Enesco, as a composer and as an interpreter, has a relatively
small audience of musicians, scholars and admiring music lovers
who - after more than 50 years - adhere a great significance
to his artistry and try to understand the outcome of his creativity.
Enescu was born on August
19, 1881 in Liveni-Virnay, a small town in the district of Dorhoiû
(Dorohoi), in the very North of Romania, in the middle of the province
of Moldavia (Moldova), close to the Ukrainian border. His great grandfather
was a church singer. Other ancestors were musicians. Enesco's father
was the son of an orthodox priest and had considered to follow a religious
vocation as well, but choose differently. He and his wife had seven
children. Two died at a very young age and when a diphtheric angina
struck the region, the five remaining children also died. The couple
prayed and prayed for a new child and finally George was born, the
eighth child, the only child they could give all their love to. This
fact is of course of significance for the development of the child.
publications Cordareni is mentioned as Enesco's birth place, and 1882
is mentioned as year of birth. Enesco himself mentioned in his conversations
with Bernard Gavoty - Les souvenirs de Georges Enesco (Ed.
Flammarion, Paris 1955 - 2006) - that 1881 was the year and his place
of birth was Liveni (today called George Enescu).
the age of three he accidently heard music played by gipsies which
awoke the seed of love for music - although gypsy music differs from
Romanian popular music completely. At five he received his first musical
instruction from his local teacher and two years later his father
sent him to Vienna to study at the Conservatory. His violin teacher
was Joseph Hellmesberger Jr. (1855-1907) who had founded the
Helmersberger String Quartet. Young Enesco studied composition and
harmony with Robert Fuchs (1847-1925), lessons he liked very
much. Four years later, George was awarded the Grand Medal of Honor
(Silver Medal). It was Helmesberger who suggested that Enesco would
go to Paris. Vienna had nothing more to offer to the development of
the young student as it was no longer the music centre of Europe and
had been replaced in importance by Paris. At the age of 14, the age
when a young boy is impressed most by events and cultural experiences
which will mark him for his entire life, Enesco went to Paris to study
at the 'Conservatoire national' with composer Jules Massenet
(1842-1912), with composer and scholar André Gédalge (1856-1925),
with composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924), and with Belgian violinist
Armand Marsick (Marsieck) (1877-1959). These important figures,
as well as the vast possibilities and atmosphere of musical and cultural
Paris, have influenced Georges Enesco's musical development and maturation.
In 1899 - at the age of 17 - he won first prize.
World War I Enesco stayed in Romania. Before and after that war he
made numerous concert tours in Europe and traveled to the United States.
He played Beethoven with Felix Weingartner (1863-1942), conducted
the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestra of the New
York Philharmonic Society, and appeared together with Béla
1927 on he choose France as his second home and his Christian name
was written the French way with an 's' as is shown on all the publications,
books, record labels and covers. He appeared with many musicians.
He conducted the Paris Symphony Orchestra and the 'Orchestre de l'association
des concerts Colonne'. He also performed and conducted in other European
In those years Enesco taught both in Romania and in France. He again
traveled to North America to appear in front of the New York Philharmonic
Orchestra in the 1936-37 season, not long after the premiere of
Oedipe, the opera on which Enesco worked for more than ten
years, leaving hardly any time to write other music, except for a
Symphony (No. 2).
Enesco and Yehudi Menuhin
child prodigy Yehudi Menuhin had been studying in San Francisco with
Louis Persinger for two years he found his next, even more important
teacher in Paris were he lived with his family. It was Georges Enesco.
When French pianist, composer and teacher, Maurice Dumesnil
(who had been accompanying Enesco on several occasions), traveled
to the US, he prepared an article on Enesco for The Etude Music
Magazine (published in Philadelphia), as an aftermath to Enesco's
stay. The article was published in the February 1937 issue. Dumesnil
tells how in 1917 a box with Enesco's manuscripts was sent out of
Romania to Moscow to safety, but was lost for almost ten years and
was finely discovered in the basement of the Kremlin. In this
article Dumesnil also mentions the importance of the maestro as a
pedagogue and describes how Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) met
with Georges Enesco in Paris.
"One evening of January, 1927, Enesco had
given a recital in the Salle Gaveau in Paris, previous to his
departure of a two-month tour of his native Romania. The customary
crowd of friends and admirers surrounded him in the artists'
room. A young boy, with light brown hair, made his way to him,
shook his hand and simply said, "I want to see you."
Enesco instinctively sensed a personality and gave the boy an
appointment for the next morning. Menuhin - it was he - went
to the apartment of the rue de Clichy, with his violin. Enesco
had just concluded a rehearsal with Gerard Hekking, the violoncellist.
"I want to study with you," the boy said this time.
"All right, will you play something for me?" When
Menuhin did play, Enesco and Hekking looked at each other in
amazement, and the former immediately accepted him as a pupil."
- Maurice Dumesnil - Etude Music Magazin, February 1937.
(Gerard) Hekking was a French-Dutch violoncellist (August 22,
1879, Nancy - June 5, 1942, Paris.) He studied at the Paris
Conservatoire. He often performed in the Netherlands. For ten
years (1904-1914) he was first cello player of the Concertgebouw
Orchestra under Willem Mengelberg. From 1927 on he was a professor
at the Paris Conservatory (Conservatoire national supérieur)
and a well known pedagogue. His most famous pupils were Maurice
Gendron (1920-1990) and Paul Tortelier (1914-1990).
In addition to violin lessons Enesco advised the study of harmony,
fugue and counterpoint - as he himself had done and had benefited
from it. Yehudy should have a strict regime in order not to be distracted
by the temptations a city like Paris has to offer, especially to a
growing up boy. In "Les souvenirs de Georges Enesco"
(Recollections of Georges Enesco), written by Bernard Gavoty
(Editions Flamarion, 1955 / Editions Kryos, 2006) Enesco said about
being Yehudi Menuhin's teacher:
"I would like to say that I molded him.
But I would lie, he already was marvelous when I took him in
pouvoir dire que je l'ai formé. Mais je mentirais, car
il était déjà merveilleux lorsque je l'ai
pris en mains ".
friendship between Enesco and Menuhin resulted in a collaboration
that can be witnessed on many (historical) shellac recordings.
Bach's Concerto for Two Violins and Strings with Yehudi Menuhin
and Georges Enesco, with Pierre Monteux conducting, was recorded
in the 78 RPM era before World War Two (1933) and issued on Victor
7732/33. The records were re-released in 1944 in an album with
reference Victor 932 (His Master's Voice D.B.1718/19).
they played Bach's Concerto for Two Violins with Pierre Monteux
conducting, a recording from January 1933 and later issued on Lp (Victor
LCT 1120, HMV FJLP 5018). Critics remarked that their playing was
"spirited" and that the performance was "immaculate".
Critic Irving Kolodin however finds the recording "a delusion"
and prefers the Joseph Szigeti-Carl Flesch shellac recording with
Walther Goehr conducting (Columbia X90), or the Lp recording with
Adolf Busch and Frances Magnes and the Busch Chamber Orchestra (Columbia
and Menuhin also performed Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor,
issued in 1937 on H.M.V. DB29U-2 (6x 12 inch discs).
Victor VM 531 they perform Mendelssohn's Concert for Violin and
Orchestra in E minor, Op. 64, also recorded before World War II.
Although Mernuhin masters the score well, one critic says, it is Georges
Enesco who renders the best orchestral part if compared to the other
available recordings with conductors Bruno Walter, Sir Malcolm Sargent,
Defauw and Sir Landon Ronald. This recording was also available in
Great Britain, but then Preludium of Bach's Sonata No. 6 was added
on a fifth disc, leaving Side 6 blanc. The reference: DB 6012/5S.
Later the 4 disc edition was available as DB 3556.
performed Dvorak's Violin Concerto with Enesco conducting the
"Orchestre symphonique de Paris" (Columbia GM-254). As I
do not own this set personally, we have to rely again on Irving Kolodin,
who notes the softer dynamics due to a different way of cutting of
the lacquer from which the plates are made. Kolodin: "As in some
other recordings made by him in Paris, Menuhin's tone speaks with
a softer accent, in French, than it does in disks originating elsewhere.
(...) While Dvorak's is not one of the fundaments of the violin literature,
it is a welcome replacement for some of those heard too often. Enesco's
conducting is sympathetic, the recording - as noted - of favorable
tone quality, though not well defined." Kolodin prefers the American
"L'Orchestre des concerts Colonne" they recorded Lalo's
Symphony Espagnol (Victor VM-136; His Master's Voice DB1999/2002).
Again with the Paris Symphony they did Mozart's Violin Concertos
Nos. 3 and 7 (Victor VM-485; HMV DB2729/31).
Novacek's Perpetuum Mobilé
was also recorded with George Enesco conducting the Paris Symphony
Orchestra (Victor V-8383; HMV DB2283), and Poème by Chausson
with the same orchestra, Enesco conducting, on Victor 7913/4.
Enesco at the piano Menuhin performed Paganini's 'Tremolo' (Caprice
No. 6) (HMV DB2841).
Enesco and young Yehudi Menuhin.
taken from an old Dutch encyclopedia.)
his late fifties, in 1939, George Enesco married Maria Rosetti
(Princess Maria Cantacuzino), and he lived in Romania during World
On April 21, 1946, he conducted Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4
in the Peter Tchaikovsky Hall (Great Hall) of the Moscow Conservatory.
Many years later this live performance was released on Melodiya
Enesco returned to Paris in that same year.
In 1947 he gave a noteworthy performance of the Three (3) Sonatas
and Three (3) Partitas for Violin Solo of Johann Sebastian
Bach. From 1948 until 1950 he taught at the Mannes School of Music
in New York and, for a brief period, joined the faculty of the University
of Illinois. In these years he conducted several concerts with the
National Symphony Orchestra in Washington. On the program works
by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Enesco and Chopin. With various soloists,
among others pianist Menahem Pressler in Chopin's Concerto No. 2 (as
is well documented on
Clasica - a blog in Romanian written by an American who was
born in Bucharest). It
was during this stay in the US that he - on the instigation of violinist
Helen Airoff, also a pupil of
his - recorded Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo for Don
Gabor's Continental Records label. Although the tape recorder
had been introduced as the new and important recording medium, the
Sonatas & Partitas were recorded on acetates.
January 21st, 1950, Georges Enesco gave a farewell-concert
in New York, performing as a violinist, as a pianist and as a conductor.
After that his health did not allow him to play the violin any longer,
but he still was able to conduct from time to time. There is a BBC
radio broadcast of Bach's Hohe Messe (Mass in B minor), BWV 232, George
Enesco conducting the Boyd Neel Orchestra, the BBC Chorus, and singers
Suzanne Danco (soprano), Kathleen Ferrier (contralto), Peter Pears
(tenor) and Norman Walker (bass). The broadcast took place on July
In 1952 the recording with the Violin Concerto (Concerto d' été)
of Joaquin Rodrigo with Christian Ferras, L'orchestre de la société
des concerts du conservatoire de Paris, was conducted by Georges Enesco.
The recording was released on Decca LXT 2678 in Europe and on London
LL 546 in the US.
Chailley-Richez and Georges Enesco at the time when they did the
recordings of the Concertos of Johann Sebastian Bach in the early
Image courtesy Musica et Memoria/The
Chailley Family (Edited by R.A.B.).
he had returned to Paris he recorded the Concertos for Clavier ("für
Klavier") of Johann Sebastian Bach for French Decca, with Céliny
Chailley-Richez as principal pianist and "L'Orchestre
de lassociation des concerts de chambre de Paris":
FAT-173053 - Bach: Concertos for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 &
Decca FAT-173050 - Bach: Concertos for Piano and Orchestra
No. 2 & 7
FAT-173119 - Bach: Concerto
for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 and Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra
No. 3 with Françoise Le Gonidec
Decca FAT-173068 - Bach: Concertos for Piano and Orchestra
No. 4 & 6
Decca FAT-173530 - Bach: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.
8 coupled with Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 with Jean-Pierre Rampal,
flute, and Christian Ferras, violin
Decca FAT-173094 - Bach: Concertos for Two Pianos and Orchestra
Nos. 1 & 2
Decca FAT-173097 - Bach: Concertos for Three Pianos and Orchestra
No. 1 & 2 with Françoise Le Gonidec and Jean-Jacques Painchaud
Decca FAT-143.538 - Bach: Concerto for Four Pianos and Orchestra
with Françoise Le Gonidec, Jean-Jacques Painchaud and Hélène Grimaud;
a 10" record.
For CD-transfers consult
In the last years of his life it was only with great pain that Enesco
could play the violin. In 1954 he suffered a stroke. Georges Enesco
died on May 4th, 1955 in Paris.
Enesco made various recordings for the Remington label. This
collaboration could have helped in the distribution of Remington recordings
on the French
Concerteum label. On Remington Records Enesco not only plays
Bach and conducts own orchestral compositions, but he also plays his
own Sonata No. 2 with pianist
Chailley-Richez with whom he recorded J.S. Bach's Concertos
for Clavier and Orchestra for French Decca. The recordings of the
two Romanian Rhapsodies and of Dixtuor are the only taped Remington
recordings of Georges Enesco the conductor.
Dixtuor. Winds of
the National French Orchestra/Georges Enesco. (coupled with
Kodaly's Cello Sonata Op. 4 performed by Richard Matuschka and
pianist Otto Schulhof) - Remington R-199-107 (later
reissued in 1978 by Tom Null on Varèse Sarabande VC 81042.
The Remington Series.)
Octet for Strings. String Ensemble/George Enesco - Remington
Romanian (Rumanian) Rhapsody No. 1. Orchestre des Concerts
Colonne/George Enesco (coupled with Liszt: Les préludes) - Remington
R-199-47 (later reissued by Tom Null on Varèse Sarabande
VC 81042 -1978)
Romanian (Roumanian) Rhapsody No. 2. Orchestre des Concerts
Colonne/George Enesco. (coupled with Smetena: The Moldau) -
Remington R-199-52 (later reissued by Tom Null on Varèse
Sarabande VC 81042 -1978)
Sonata No. 2 in F minor. With Celiny Chailley-Richez, piano
- Remington R-149-42 (the name of the pianist wrongly
spelled as Chaillez-Riches). This performance was reissued on
Varèse Sarabande VC 81048 (The Remington Series, 1978)
coupled with Dohnányi's Sonata for Violin and Piano,
Op. 21 (written in 1912 in Berlin), which was recorded in 1952
with violinist Albert Spalding and Ernö Dohnányi
at the piano, never released on Remington records.
Sonata No. 2 in D minor Op. 121. With Celiny Chailley-Richez,
pianist - Remington R-149-50.
Rumanian Rhapsody Nos. 1 and 2. Orchestre des Concerts Colonne/George
Enesco (coupled with Villa Lobos conducting the RIAS Symphony
Orchestra in his Choros No. 6) - Remington R-199-207 (later
reissued by Tom Null on Varèse Sarabande VC 81042 -1978)
Sonata No. 2 in B minor for Violin Solo - Georges Enesco
- . Remington PL-1-149. In the early nineteen fifties
Bach's Sonata No. 2 appeared in various disguises: in a yellow
and red cover, a gray and red cover, and as a single record
in a box.
Enesco's Continental Recordings of
The Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Alone (6):
No. 1 for Solo Violin in G minor BWV 1001
Partita No. 1 for Solo Violin in B minor BWV 1002
Sonata No. 2 for Solo Violin in A minor BWV 1003
Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin in D minor BWV 1004
Sonata No. 3 for Solo Violin in C Major BWV 1005
Partita No. 3 for Solo Violin in E Major BWV 1006
Recorded in 1949, in New York, originally released by Don Gabor
on his Continental label - Continental CLP 104/105/106.
for a Sound Clip of Fugue from Sonata No. 2 for Solo Violin in
A minor BWV 1003.
of the original box and the label of the third record
courtesy Chuck Miller, writer and columnist ("Goldmine"
and "Warman's American Records 1950-2000").
In the August 26, 1950, edition
of Billboard Magazine the Continental CLP-104 release (the first
record of the set with Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2) was reviewed:
the load of competition on LP of this limited-sale material,
these Enesco cuttings may have tough pulling to get representation
outside the few big longhair tenters. Many connoisseurs will
prefer them, however, for their rugged, warm and human quality.
The noted virtuoso and teacher may not be the last word in technique,
but he can offer most fidlers a lesson in broad style. In certain
bright passages he manages to infuse an almost gypsy like fervor.
Pressing and surfaces are very good."
reviewer refers to Bach's Sonatas and Partitas as "limited sale
material". In the 78 rpm shellac era the popularity of these
works was even less prominent than at the time of his evaluation in
Billboard Magazine in the "Bach Year".
the shellac era there were recordings of individual Sonatas by Joseph
Szigeti (Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2), Nathan Milstein (Partita No. 2), and
Adolf Busch (Partita No. 2). The only set which could be considered
as "most complete" was the one of George Enesco's pupil
Yehudi Menuhin. He played Sonata No.1, Partita No. 1, Sonata
No. 2 - 3rd movement only, Partita No. 2, Sonata No. 3, Partita Nr.
3. These data are given in The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of
Recorded Music from 1948.
Kolodin evaluated the Menuhin recordings in The New Guide To Recorded
Music (Doubleday, New York, 1950). The recordings were made over
a period of several years and varied in quality of performance and
in sound recording technique. Various dates are given in various publications.
For the earliest recording 1931 is given, but generally discographers
mention 1934 as the year of the first recording. The last year he
recorded on 78 rpm was 1944. Some of his playing was considered to
be "outstanding and even unchallengeable" at the time.
of Sonatas & Partitas in the 1950s
is interesting to discover some historical facts regarding availability,
appreciation and artistic merit, and ranking of Bach's Sonatas and
Partitas in the early days of the Long Playing record.
recordings in the 1950's of
Johann Sebastian Bach's Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied
Violin (BWV 1001-1006).
September 1950 edition of Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog
lists two complete sets. One set is by violinist Alexander Schneider
on Mercury MGL-1 (4x 12" LP discs, individually numbered
MG 10017/10018/10019/10020) recorded in 1949 by C. Robert Fine
(engineer) and Mitchell Miller (recording director) at Reeves
Sound Studios, New York City. The other available set was the
one performed by Georges Enescu on Don Gabor's Continental Records
label with references CLP 104-105-106, also recorded in 1949.
Obviously these recordings were made for release in 1950, the
200th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach's death.
Review of Literature wrote bluntly about Schneider's recording:
"Complete but Surpassable".
Warren Demotte however said about the Schneider 4 Lp set five
years later in his Long Playing Record Guide (1955): "Alexander
Schneider plays with understanding and sincerety, but he has
neither the equipment nor the temperament to make his interpretations
exciting. Nor should his album consist of four records when
others manage with three."
Quite an anticlimax, if not a contradiction.
Indeed Schneider was a good chamber musician when playing in
a quartet and he appeared also as a conductor. There are instances
where his Bach Sonatas & Partitas show indeed understanding
when playing in a grand manner. Some parts however are played
in a more scholarly, academic fashion as if they were just studies
for practicing the instrument - what these pieces in fact are
- lacking the passion or a clearer personal concept which he
nevertheless shows in his best moments.
excellent sound recording of C. Robert Fine adds much to the
quality of these performances. These recordings were released
in 1950 (as were the Enesco Continental recordings), the anniversary
of the death of J.S. Bach. The availability of Schneider's recordings
in European countries is not traceable. It was found however
that the Schneider discs became available for the first time
in France in the autumn of 1955, not on Mercury but on three
discs of the Classic label (CLP 6286/87/88/89).
arrival of the tape recorder - the German invention brought
to the US by Jack Mullin after World War Two and built by Ampex
in 1947 - furthered the development of the Long Playing record
which was introduced in 1948 by Columbia. Now recordings of
complete works could easily be made and fit on the new 12 inch
plastic disks. Tape was the medium used by Bob Fine of Mercury
Enesco Continental performances however were recorded on acetates.
An acetate is an aluminum disc of 10, 12 or 16 inches in diameter,
coated with a layer of wax or lacquer in which the signal is
engraved. (Because of the scarcity of aluminum during World
War II the aluminum was often replaced by glass.) Enesco's performances
were recorded in 1949. From these acetates the signal was transferred
to the actual lacquer on the cutting lathe from which the matrices
and plates were made to press the LPs from. See
Webster Record Manufacturing Plant .
is not known if the acetates had been transferred to tape by
the technicians of Don Gabor (as they may have done with Simon
Barere's recording of the Liszt Sonata made in Carnegie Hall).
In Enesco's case the acetates initially may have served as the
source for the Continental 3 LP set but were later transferred
to tape. However, on the back of the reissue on the Olympic
3 LP set from 1974, it is mentioned that the acetates were transferred
to tape by the Everest engineers and were edited and filtered
in order to eliminate pops and hiss.
Continental Set was still available
in January 1952, but was deleted from the Schwann catalog
by March of that year. A reason to discontinue the set could
have been that sales were not very high since the technically
better sound recording done by Mercury of Alexander Schneider's
playing was obviously preferred by many, despite the fact that
the three Continental records were cheaper than the four Mercuries
(though at the time a single Continental record had the same
price tag as a Mercury LP).
reason could have been the criticism on the technical aspects
of Enesco's playing from a few reviewers who adhere a greater
significance to the technique of the artist than to the musicality,
the intrinsic value of the performance. When reviewing Sonata
No. 2, the only Sonata which was released on the Remington label,
wrote in New Republic in April of 1951: "George Enesco's
playing of Bach's E minor Sonata for unaccompanied violin offers,
like Enesco's appearences in public, painful proof that even
a fine musician cannot play an instrument effectively without
forgot that this is Enesco at 67, struck by arthritis, and that
his ability was only a shadow of his powers when he was a young
man. However there is more greatness in these performances shining
through than is technically performed and is recorded in the
From March 1952 on only Enesco's playing of Sonata No. 2
on the 10 inch Remington (PL1-149) remained in the catalog,
probably to please a few admirers and maybe to please Enesco
as well. From then on the Mercury set with Alexander Schneider
(MG 1017/18/19/20) was the only complete issue available at
one year later - in January 1953, according to Schwann
- the complete set played by violinist José Figueroa
was released on four twelve inch discs on the New A'A'O Records
Inc. label with reference NRLP 408 /409 /410 /411. New A'A'O
Records had a mail box at Grand Central Station, New York 17.
This indicates that it was a small firm as no street address
was mentioned on the covers. These recordings by Figueroa were
in the other record catalog, 'The Long Player'. New Records
Inc. ceased to exist in 1959.
Figueroa (1905-1998) was born in San Sebastian (Puerto
Rico), studied in Madrid and later in France. He went to live
for some time in the United States and finally settled in Puerto
Rico on the instigation of Pablo Casals.
one year his Sonatas and Partitas competed with Alexander Schneider's.
Figueroa's box was listed for the last time in Schwann of December
1955. The exact reason for the deletion is not known. But it
is suspected that also José Figueroa's performances could
not change the fact that the Sonatas & Partitas had "tough
pulling to get representation outside the few big longhair tenters",
the phrase used in an earlier Billboard review of the Remington
disc. Whether Figueroa's playing may have met the desired standard
is yet an unsolved riddle.
the autumn of 1951 Jerome Hill and C. Robert
Fine - known from the
Recordings - went to Germany to make recordings of the
Sonatas and Partitas with violinist Rolph Schröder
(Schroeder) in the Church of Günsbach for Columbia Records.
These were later issued in a box with reference SL-189, containing
the individual records ML 4743/44/45. The Schröder
recordings were financed by Dr. Albert Schweitzer who
also wrote the introduction to the set. Schröder plays
with the curved bow (arched bow / archery bow, Rundbogen),
most certainly inspired by Tossy Spivakovsky's considerations
of methods described in the book ''The Spivakovsky Way of Bowing,''
by Gaylord Yost, published by Volkwein Bros in Pittsburg ca.
fact is that the Schröder recordings were not immeditaly
issued but became for the first time available in the spring
of 1954. As the recordings were made by Bob Fine, a condition
in the contract may have been that a release would be scheduled
much later in order not to hamper the sales of the Alexander
Schneider set on Mercury for some time. In High Fidelity
Magazine of May, 1954, David Randolph ended his review of
the Schröder performances with these words: "...this
recording could be the beginning of what later
music history books will call 'new era in the conception of
Bach' ". But contrary to what David Randolph expected,
the arched bow was only seldom used since. The only recordings
known where by Emil Telmanyi and a single disc by Otto Büchner.
1954 the performances of Jascha Heifetz (recorded
in October, 1952) became available on Victor LM 6105 (3 x 12")
in the US and by April 1957 in Great Brittain and several European
countries on His Master's Voice ALP 1449/50/51. The Heifetz
performances are considered to be the top, both technical and
interpretive. Warren DeMotte: "Heifetz stands almost alone
among violinists as a technician. As an interpreter, he has
peers and sometimes surperiors. However, when he is at the top
of his form, as he is in this album, it is almost impossible
to imagine a better performance."
November 1954 Emil Telmanyi's complete recordings
made in 1953 were added to the catalog. In Great Brittain in
1954 on LXT 2951-3 and in the the USA in 1955 on 3 x 12"
London LPs (LLA 20). Like Schröder also Telmanyi uses the
archery bow. Some critics found his playing not structured
enough. Maybe caused by using the Rundbogen? These mono Decca
/ London recordings were released anew in 1984, reduced to 2
discs, on the Danacord label (DACO 147-148).
December 1954 the complete set of Henryk Szeryng
was issued in France on Odéon ODX-122/123/124. This set
became available in other European countries in the spring of
1955, however not in Great Britain. Initially this set was available
in Europe only until it was made available in the USA as Schwann
Artist Listings of 1960 mentions. The Odeon Set introduced Henryk
Szeryng to the American record collector and the availability
most certainly must have resulted in Szeryng's contract with
RCA a few years later and his subsequent liaison with Mercury
1962, Columbia Records (CBS) bought labels in various European
countries in order to cover European soil by themselves and
no longer by licensing to European record labels. In the Netherlands
Columbia bought Artone, in France Odéon. Now the original
Odeon recordings were issued in France and other European countries
(except Great Britain) as CBS 51068/69/70. American record collectors
had to wait until the fall of 1968 for the French CBS LPs to
be issued in the USA on Columbia's Odyssee label as a 3 LP set
with reference 32 36 0013. The reissue was opportune because
of the release in October 1968 of Szeryng's new recordings made
in stereo for Deutsche Grammophon, reference SLPM 139/1/2.
recordings of Johanna Martzy became available as three
different releases in November 1955, March 1956 and October
1956 respectively: Columbia 33CX 1286/87/88 in Great Brittain,
and Angel D-35280/81/82 in the USA. They had been recorded in
1954 and 1955. But by 1960 the Martzy recordings were deleted
from the listings in the catalogs while the earlier mono sets
of Heifetz and of Milstein remained available in the first years
of the stereo era.
Schwan of May 1957 the Capitol Three 12-in. Set with
reference PCR 8370 of Nathan Milstein was listed for
the first time. Reviewer Nathan Broder evaluated and described
these recordings in High Fidelity Magazine of July 1957 as "A
powerful rival to the Heifetz set, in my opinion, the pre-eminent
performance on records".
Partita No. 1 and Sonata No. 2 were available separately on
a single disc with reference P-8298. The recordings were made
at random over several years in the Capitol Recording Studios,
151 W. 46th Street, New York City. Sonata No. 1 was recorded
in March 1954. Partita
No. 1 on 6 February 1956. Sonata No. 2 on 27 December 1956.
Partita No. 2 in March 1954. Sonata No. 3 in May 1956. Partita
No. 3 in December 1955.
June of 1957 it was announced that the Rolph Schröder
CBS recordings were to be discontinued and would be deleted
from Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog.
performances by Georges Enesco became available again
for a short period. They were now issued on the red/gold Remington
MUSIRAMA label without being listed in both Schwann and
Long Player. The labels did not have the original reference
numbers but only the numbers of the 6 plates: TA-16/17/18/19/20/21.
Although Don Gabor announced the MUSIRAMA black-gold label series
in the September 1953 Schwann catalog, the later variation of
the label in red/gold was first used around 1957.
The Remington edition of the Sonatas and Partitas was issued
when by the end of 1957 the recordings of Enesco's pupil
Yehudi Menuhin became available on Electrola 90897/98/99
in the USA (His Master's Voice ALP 1512/1531/1532 in Great Brittain).
Obviously a valid reason to re-release the performances of Menuhin's
recordings of specific works - be it operas, concertos, symphonies
or rather peculiar titles - and having these performed by popular
artists or new talents, and releasing the ready products at
well chosen dates, has always been the marketing strategy of
most record companies. The strategy is determined for a large
part by what the competiton does and what the competition does
not. - R.A.B.
Bach on LP and CD
Japan there is the look alike Continental-reissue of the 3
LP Box with the reference numbers CLP 104/105/106 of the original
issue. The look alike with red velvet covered box is smaller in width
and the labels are differently styled. Modern technology has made
it possible to restore the sound of the original recordings to such
an extent that the sound is far better than the Everest-Olympia records
which were so elaborately cleaned up in the days of the tape recorder
and analog filters. In the new set rumble and surface noise have been
reduced beyond expectation and this makes it possible to fully absorb
the intention fo the performance. The sound recording clearly conveys
nuances and dynamics. Even the striking of the clock in the room where
the recording was made can be heard in the background which adds to
realism and the improvisational character of the recording. This may
indicate that the recording sessions could have taken place in the
home of Gabor, Laszlo Halasz or in Enesco's temporary residence. These
newly pressed records are of the 180 gr. quality.
It is possible that a modern 180 gr. pressing - of whatever performance
or label - may be encountered of which the vinyl is rather vulnerable.
This is not caused by the chosen type of vinyl which is of a different
recipe than used by Philips, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon or Nippon
Columbia in the 1970s and 1980s. The cause may be that during the
pressing the vinyl was not heated through and through.
this reissue the notes of the original 1950 Continental release
were reproduced on an inlay containing a short biography of Enesco
and an explanation of the Sonatas and Partitas. From these notes -
which were probably written with some "advertising" in mind
- I quote the following paragraphs showing that the author (and producer
Don Gabor) sensed the historical value of these interpretations at
"Georges Enesco ranks today
as one of the greatest living musicians and there are many who
will claim for him the top rung as the world's foremost living
musician. (...) His masterful interpretations and playing of
the six Bach unaccompanied violin sonatas, presented by Continental
Records in this series, not only fill a much needed requirement
for the master compositions, but provide an achievement which
will go down in recorded history as one of the most unique presentations
of all time. This series presents the works as one of the greatest
of music's past immortals played and interpreted by the most
important living figure capable of doing justice to Bach's music.
Enesco's approach to Bach shows technical mastery, but it also
reveals a deep humility and reverence toward his subject matter
which he has studied so well over many decades. As such, it
approaches the millennium in the art of preservation of these
masterworks." (Original Liner
3 LP set of Olympic Records (8117/3) from 1974 also contain
the complete performances of Bach's Three Sonatas and Three Partitas
but after the transfer to tape they were electronically re-recorded
to simulate stereo which was the fashion in the beginning of the stereo
era of the LP when companies were afraid that the public would not
buy mono recordings any longer. Despite this electronic manipulation,
the engineers, who literally spent hundreds of hours, did a remarkable
job. They did not loose too much of the character of the violin but
filtered out a lot of the hiss and surface noise somewhat to the detriment
of the violin tone. The liner notes say: "This recording was
made before the advent of modern tape technology". It is regrettable
that the sound of the Everest release is not too clear if compared
to the much better Continental reissue.
Records OL-8117/3 (distributed by Eeverest): Bach Sonatas and
Partitas in electronic stereo.
transfers were released in Japan by Nippon Columbia as a 3 Lp set
with reference DXM-128-30-AX. The accompanying book was in
Japanese only. The
Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo also have been released on CD
by Philips in Japan. And these performances have also been released
on a 2-CD set labeled Continental CCD104-105.
Continental recordings were made when George Enesco was of age and
suffered from arthritis. When evaluating a batch of Remington Records
Smith commented on the Enesco performance: "George Enesco's
playing of Bach's E minor Sonata for unaccompanied violin, offers,
like Enesco's appearances in public, painful proof that even a fine
musician cannot play an instrument effectively without adequate technique."
is true, his style sometimes lacks precise intonation. If a firm bow
touch is missing it is because of the work he is playing or it is
caused by the recording technique, although his style of playing the
violin shows similarities with his treatment of the violin in his
Sonata No. 3 as exemplified by Christian Ferras (accompanied
by Pierre Barbizet, piano) on His Master's Voice ASD 531
/ Electrola STE 80749.
re-recording of the Sonatas and Partitas on the recent Continental
set are most revealing of the strength of his playing because of the
improved dynamics. Enesco did not say "perfection does not interest
me" to provide an alibi for himself. His performance of the Sonatas
& Partitas do show his adagium. Today many a music-lover is in
the position to listen in a different manner to Enesco's legacy on
Continental and the Remington issues and reissues, different from
the way critic Cecil Smith did. Naturally collectors do cherish these
performances and may collect other original and rare recordings of
Georges Enesco as a violinist. He made many recordings of works by
various composers: Ambrosio, Bach, Beethoven, Chausson, Corelli, Handel,
Kreisler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Pugnani, Ravel, Schumann and also Wagner.
And he recorded works of his own.
Despite Enesco's failing health, his
performances on the Gabor recordings bring the music close to the
listener. And the listener can go to the heart of the score. Enesco's
timing and phrasing are exceptional and above all very natural. And
even Enesco's technique still has a remarkable ease and is never an
obstacle for the full enjoyment of these works. (See also George Mircea's
review of the 2 CD set of the Sonatas and Partitas on
Bach Home Page.)
checking the 1942 and 1948 editions of The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia
of Recorded Music it is amazing that there is no recording of
a Sonata and/or Partita listed with Georges Enesco performing. And
Irving Kolodin does not mention the Continental recordings
in his "The New Guide to Recorded Music" (New York, 1950)
obviously because his guide was printed before the records were released.
The performances on whatever medium available today (and affordable!)
are the sole recordings of these works ever recorded by Enesco. The
CD issue of the Sonatas and Partitas BWV 1001-1003 were reviewed by
Pierre-E. Barbier in the French monthly Diapason of
October 1989. He wrote:
"Certainly one can be astonished
by the manifold liberties, above all rhythmic, Enesco permitted
himself, while nowadays the text comes well before the spirit
of this music. The violinist Enesco proposed an astonishing
mixture of virtuoso gypsy style and severity, but possessed
above all an incomparable sonority, the imprint of an infallible
melancholy and at the same time a muted rudeness. This recording,
historical because of the resulting frequency band, permits
finding the spirituality, the haughty and generous freedom of
this artist, whose eloquence has never been equaled." -
are other recordings of the master. From about 1963 is Monitor
2049 with Georges Enesco playing his Second Sonata accompanied
by Dinu Lipatti (originally recorded on 78 RPM shellac discs, very
well transferred to LP) together with Enesco's String Quartet No.
2 performed by the Romanian Radio String Quartet (in a more modern
recording technique). It is an original Electrecord recording
from Romania. That same recording of the Second Sonata for Violin
and Piano with Enesco and Dinu Lipatti was originally released
on Electrecord ECD 61 in 1958.
On Electrecord FCD-95, a 10" LP from Rumania, Georges
Enesco and Dinu Lipatti perform Enesco's Sonata No. 3, coupled
with 'Pièce de concert pour alto et piano' played by Alexandru
Radulesco (alto) and Georges Enesco at the piano (also dubbings
from 78 RPM recordings).
extremely rare set of 2x 78 rpm records on the Columbia label
contains the Sonata No. 4 in D major by Georg Friedrich Handel
performed by Georges Enesco accompanied by pianist Stanford
Schlussel, recorded in 1929 in New York. Columbia 50187-D
and Columbia 50188-D electrical recording.
(Images courtesy Takeshi Miura.)
who owns this performance, says: "The impeccable simplicity
in his performance of the Handel Sonata No.4, together with La
Folia (Corelli) and Poème (Chausson), makes us forefeel
his performance of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas in the later stages."
is another rare recording of Enesco and Chailley-Richez performing
Beethoven's Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 9, 'Kreutzer',
made in 1952 and released in France on Columbia FC1058 in 1957.
and research: Rudolf A.Bruil.
Page first published on June 5th, 2002 and updated since.
Famous pianist Lory Wallfisch,
who formed a duo with her late husband, violinist/violist Ernst Wallfisch,
is President of the
Enescu Society of the United States, Inc. She is also "Iva
Dee Hiatt Professor Emeritus of Music", an honorary title of
the Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
The year 2005 marked the 50th anniversary of the death of George Enesco.
On the occasion Mrs. Lory Wallfisch (also from Romania) wrote to me:
have known personally George Enescu (in Romania, then in Paris)
as did my late husband, the great violinist Ernst Wallfisch.
We made music with and for Enescu. In Paris we visited him several
times and once - at his own invitation - we witnessed one of
his masterclasses, at the home of Madame Yvonne Astruc, one
of his former students. Besides Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux,
he also taught Ida Haendel - great American violinist, still
Of course, the relationship with Yehudi Menuhin is legendary...
Together with my husband, we ("Wallfisch Duo") participated
many, many times, in the Menuhin Music Festival in Gstaad, Switzerland.
In 1981, and on the occasion of Enescu's centennial birth-anniversary,
I performed an all-Enescu concert, at the invitation of Menuhin:
3rd piano & violin sonata, 2nd piano quartet, and the string
octet (great reviews in the Swiss newspapers!).
The last time we visited Enescu in Paris, was in January 1955;
he was already bedridden.
I have recently returned from a European trip which took me
first to Berlin ("Berlin-Enescu Days"), lecturing
and performing Enescu. For the same purpose, I went also to
the "Yehudy Menuhin School" in Surrey, England, and
to the "International Menuhin Music Academy" in Switzerland.
All in connection with the observance of 50 years since Enescu's
Lory Wallfisch - December 7th, 2005
Original text written by Rudolf A. Bruil. Page first published June