The Strad Issue: January 2007
Musicians: Remus Azoitei (violin) Eduard Stan (piano)
Composer: Enescu

Enescu’s three sonatas are high-water marks of turn-of-the-20th-century violin literature, not least because Enescu, friend to Ysaÿe and teacher of Menuhin, was one of the finest virtuosos of his day, acclaimed in Vienna and Paris.

Two of his scintillating sonatas are included here, and in his compatriot, the Romanian-born violinist Remus Azoitei, he finds an ideal interpreter. Azoitei has all the requirements: marked sensitivity, a sweetness of tone (but not over-succulence), an impressive emotional and dynamic range, and the ability to sustain Enescu’s extended lines without making them sound laboured.

Both sonatas are brilliantly, perceptively and subtly played: the growth in intensity midway through the one-movement A minor Sonata (1911) and in the opening Allegro of the F minor (1899) is rendered all the more effective for the careful preparation and build-up. Azoitei is handsomely matched by pianist Eduard Stan, who reveals a fine gift of restraint and an instinctive feel for balance so as never to outweigh but always skilfully to shadow the violin soloist. Their conclusion of the central Tranquillo is quite magical.

However the plum of this recording is the suite Impressions from Childhood (1940). Azoitei is masterly in catching the folk effects of ‘Fiddler’ (fine trills and double-stopping), and mimicking the twittering of a caged bird, the singing of a cricket, or the murmurings of a garden stream (recalling Szymanowski’s Arethusa). Stan is no less adept, stressing the slightly distorted harmonic air of ‘Moon through Glass’, or the eerie effect of ‘Wind through the chimney’. Hänssler has done this recording proud: every detail is caught to perfection.   

Roderic Dunnett