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CHAN 10672
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CHAN 10672

Enescu: Piano Quartets, Nos 1 and 2

The Classical Shop
release date: June 2011

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2010


Schubert Ensemble


Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk


Jeremy Hayes


Jonathan Cooper

Record Label



Total Time - 66:24
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Piano Quartet No. 1, Op. 16 (1909)

  in D major - in D-Dur - en ré majeur  
  for Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello  
  À Madame Michel Ephrussi  
1 I Allegro moderato - Poco meno mosso - Tempo I - A tempo animato - A tempo agitato molto - 14:39
2 II Andante mesto - A tempo tranquillo - Animando poco a poco - Animato - 12:33
3 III Vivace - Un poco meno mosso - A tempo I - Meno mosso - Animando poco a poco - 11:43

Piano Quartet No. 2, Op. 30 (1944)

  in D minor - in d-Moll - en ré mineur  
  À la mémoire de mon maître Gabriel Fauré  
4 I Allegretto moderato 8:58
5 II Andante pensieroso ed espressivo - Un poco più animato - A tempo I 7:48
6 III Con moto moderato - Allegro agitato 10:43

George Enescu was an extraordinarily gifted and well-rounded musician: a virtuoso violinist, a world-class conductor, an outstanding pianist, cellist, and organist – even a fine baritone. He was hugely admired by many great musicians of his time, including the cellist and conductor Pablo Casals who described him as ‘the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart’.

To a certain extent, the musical genius and extreme versatility of Enescu ended up overshadowing his many great achievements as a composer. His best-known compositions – the Romanian Rhapsodies – are light potpourris of folk tunes which deflected the focus from the depth and originality of his other works, and for this reason he grew to resent them. In his composing career, Enescu wrote five symphonies, an opera, and quite a number of pieces for chamber groups, including the two piano quartets recorded here. To this day, most of these works remain rarities in the concert hall, and they are also seldom recorded.

One of the paradoxes of his writing is that the extremely detailed instructions left in the scores of his chamber works produce the impression of music that it almost improvised. His two piano quartets illustrate the point well. These are late romantic works with a firm grounding in the twentieth century. Richly textured, virtuosic, and highly individual, they display traits characteristic of Mahler, Wagner, Fauré, and Ravel, while also remaining heavily indebted to the distinctive sound of Romanian folk music. Technically, both are highly challenging works, as you would expect from the teacher of such prominent musicians as Yehudi Menuhin, Arthur Grumiaux, and Ida Haendel.

The members of the Schubert Ensemble know these works well. They performed a series of Enescu’s chamber works at the Wigmore Hall during 2010, including these two piano quartets. Giving more than sixty concerts a year, and having performed in over forty different countries, the Ensemble is known today as one of the world’s leading exponents of chamber music for piano and strings, consistently receiving excellent reviews for their recordings on Chandos.

"...These works are worth discovering!..."

Vroon - American Record Guide - November/December 2011

"This is an extremely fine First Piano Quartet: lean, impassioned, and technically expert ... This performance is a joy to hear."

Arthur Lintgen - Fanfare - November/December 2011

“...The members of the Schubert Ensemble have clearly lived with this music for a long time, and love it as performers must if they are to do such works justice. Subtlety, restraint, beauty of tone, perfect unanimity within the ebb and flow of the inbuilt  rubato – they have it all, plus the ability to produce the sudden blazes of dioysiac energy required in both quartets’ finales.  The crystalline limpidity of William Howard’s pianism impresses throughout. This disc is a mandatory purchase for admirers of this extraordinary composer...”

Callum MacDonald – Tempo – October 2011

Repertoire ****    Sound ****      Interpretation ****

Ernst Hoffmann – Ensemble magazine  (Germany) – October/November 2011

“...This very welcome release from Chandos of his two piano quartets, while not their first recordings, finds the members of the Schubert Endemble to be entirely sympathetic to Enescu’s musical world and to be very persuasive advocates of it – both for seasoned Ensembles and interested newcomers... exemplary in its enlightenment and observation – can only help further the fully deserved cause of Enescu’s music.”

Colin Anderson – – 1 June 2011

Performance *****    Recording ****

“...These works are magnificently performed here. An important release.”

Calum MacDonald – BBC Music magazine – August 2011

“...The Schubert Ensemble can be applauded to the skies for bringing  Enescu’s ridiculously neglected chamber music to the fore. Their playing is dedicated and enthusiastic, with William Howard’s deft pianism and strong rhythmic sense anchoring the flights of fantasy with which the strings surround him... Excellent playing in a valuable disc that should help bring Enescu a step further towards the attention he deserves...” ****

Jessica Duchen - Classic FM Music Magazine – August 2011

"As the booklet insists Enescu is a past master insufficiaently acknowledged, but the Schubert Ensemble have been doing much to rectify the situation. They have performed these big-boned quartets and his Piano Quintet at Wigmore Hall and elsewhere, and this recording is further  sumptuous advocacy ..."

Paul Driver - Sunday Times - 5 June 2011

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