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
- Georges Enescu.
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 instrfuments (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."
Honneger, creator of the expressive oratorios 'Le roi David' and
'Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher' said in an article in Le Figaro Littéraire
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.
In certain 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
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.
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
(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. 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 and Paul Tortelier.
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
"I would like to say that I molded him. But I would lie,
he already was marvelous when I took him on my hands."
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
They also performed Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor, issued
in 1937 on H.M.V. DB29U-2 (6x 12 inch discs).
On 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 edition on 4 discs was available 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 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, and conducted by Georges Enesco,
was released on Decca LXT 2678 in Europe and on London LL 546 in the
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":
Decca FAT-173053 - Bach: Concertos for Piano and Orchestra
No. 1 & 5
- Bach: Concertos for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 & 7
- 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 only with great pain 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
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
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
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
reissued in 1978 by Tom Null on Varèse Sarabande VC 81042.
The Remington Series.)
Octet for Strings. String Ensemble/George Enesco -
Romanian (Rumanian) Rhapsody No. 1. Orchestre des Concerts
Colonne/George Enesco (coupled with Liszt: Les préludes) - Remington
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
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
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."
The 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.
There were recordings of individual Sonatas by Joseph Szigeti (Nos.
1 and 3) and Nathan Milstein (No.4). 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 Nr. 1, Sonata
Nr. 2 - 3rd movement only, Partita Nr. 2, Sonata Nr. 3, Partita Nr.
3. (These data are given in The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of
Recorded Music from 1948.) Irving Kolodin evaluated these recordings
in The New Guide To Recorded Music (Doubleday, New York, 1950).
The Menuhin 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
It 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 by C. Robert Fine (engineer)
and Mitchell Miller (recording director) in 1949, 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 reference CLP 104-106, also recorded in 1949. 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 like they were 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.
The 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, but it was found that
the Schneider discs became available for the first time in France
in the autumn of 1955, not on Mercury but on Classic 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
Records. The 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 replaced by a glass disk.)
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
New England Webster Record Manufacturing
It is not known if the acetates had been transferred to tape
by the technicians of Don Gabor. They were probably not. On
the back of the reissue on the Olympic 3 LP set from 1974 it
is mentioned that these acetates were transferred to tape by
the Everest engineers and edited in order to eliminate pops
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 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). Another 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 artists
than to the musicality, the intrinsic value of his performance.
When reviewing Sonata No. 2, after its release on the Remington
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
adequate technique." Smith obviously 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. That is why
there is more greatness in these performances shining through
than is actually technically recorded in the groove.
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 Alexander Schneider's Mercury set
(MG 1017/18/19/20) was the only complete issue available.
one year later - in January 1953 - the complete set
played by violinist José Figueroa on four twelve
inch discs on the New (World) Records Inc. label with
reference NRLP 408/409/410/411 was released (again according
to Schwann, but the recordings were not listed
in The Long Player). Figueroa (1905-1998) was born in San Sebastian
(Spain), studied in Madrid and later in France. He went to live
for some time in the United States and finally settled in Puerto
Rico, the reason why he is often referred to as a Puerto Rican
violinist. For 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
efforts had "tough pulling to get
representation outside the few big longhair tenters", the
phrase used in an earlier Billboard review of the Remington
disc. Figueroa's playing may not have met the desired standard.
the autumn of 1951 Jerome Hill and C. Robert
Fine (known from the
went to Germany to make recordings of the Sonatas and Partitas
with violinist Rolph Schröder (Schroeder) in the
Church of Günsbach for Columbia Records (SL-189, ML
4743/5). 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. Strange
fact is that the Schröder recordings were not immeditaly
issued but became 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 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."
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
In 1962 Columbia 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.
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 were still available.
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.
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 by 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 compettion does
not. - R.A.B.
Bach on LP and CD
From 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.
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.
For 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 the time:
"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."
The 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.
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.
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."
It 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.
The 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.)
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." -
There 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."
There 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.
Text and research:
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:
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
Wallfisch - December 7th, 2005
Original text written by Rudolf A. Bruil. Page first published June