ENESCU Violin Sonatas Nos 2 & 3
The piano ripples over the opening phrase of the Third Sonata, the violin gives a yearning, wavering cry and immediately we’re in Enescu’s world – and it’s just a question of how fully and deeply these performers can inhabit it. So be in no doubt, there is some stellar playing on this disc. Daniel Rowland has a powerful, glamorous tone, gleaming at the top and throaty and rugged down at the bottom, and Natacha Kudritskaya matches him every bar of the way for passion, fantasy and precision.
They bring off the first movement of the Second Sonata in a single lyrical sweep. Kudritskaya really shines here; listen to the chiming delicacy of her solo episode from around 4'15" in the second movement. Rowland’s commitment, too, is total: in the mercurial, folk-dance flare-ups of the Third Sonata he plays with such fiery intensity that the music seems to shake. Even in the stratospheric, Messiaen-like birdsong imitations of the Impressions d’enfance, Rowland’s focus is absolute.
And yet I was left with a slight feeling that somehow the pair weren’t so much surrendering to the Romanian folk spirit in this music as summoning it up by sheer force of will – certainly when compared to the spontaneity and animal instinct of, say, Sherban Lupu. But to be fair, the only serious caveat is that the individual sections of the Impressions aren’t listed or given separate tracks. These are engrossing performances of some of the 20th century’s most original and compelling violin music.