George Enescu

February 1, 2004 at 02:55 AM · Are any of you familiar with this player? I just got his Bach partitas and sonatas. I don't know what to think...the recordings are horrible and sometimes i can't tell whether the horrid sound and myriad wrong notes i am hearing is from the recording technology/quality or just him.

Replies (29)

February 1, 2004 at 03:07 AM · This guy was a genius, pure and simple. It is the recording technology that is at fault with that recording.

February 1, 2004 at 04:13 AM · For all the Enescu fans:

Enescu wrote a piano trio that the Gryphon Trio gave it's first ever North American performance of, not too long ago! It's a really neat piece of music.

February 1, 2004 at 04:16 AM · Was given in Canada?

February 1, 2004 at 04:38 AM · Good point Kelsey he wrote some great music, especially the third violin sonata and dont forget he taught Menuhin and Grumiaux (but Grumiaux not for very long)

February 1, 2004 at 07:15 AM · And I think he studied with Marsick, who was also Flesch and Thibaud's teacher. It is said that Grumiaux studied with him for only 3 months and learned little if anything at all. His Romanian Rhapsodies are some of the best works written in the 20th century and his recordings with Dinu Lipatti might well be some of the best collaborations in history.

February 1, 2004 at 04:12 PM · Yes, Anton! It was performed in Toronto, and broadcast live across the country on CBC radio.

February 12, 2004 at 09:13 AM · If any of you are into chamber music, I would highly, highly recommend listening to his string octet, it is simply unbelievable. The melodies are long and absolutely beautiful, and there is always so much going on between the instruments. It's a shame it isn't performed very often, but a reason for that is because of it's sheer difficulty, not only individually, but also as an ensemble. I would specifically recommend the recording made with Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica, it seems to be the most well thought-out and musical (despite the technical difficulties).


November 21, 2008 at 08:43 PM ·

"Are any of you familiar with this player? I just got his Bach partitas and sonatas. I don't know what to think...the recordings are horrible and sometimes i can't tell whether the horrid sound and myriad wrong notes i am hearing is from the recording technology/quality or just him. "

Dear Dan,


The "player "that you are talking about was maestro  George Enescu ,one of the greatest violinists ,teachers , conductors and composers of the past era.Of course the recordings are in fault , they are very old , and actually any recording you have with him playing must be considered a treasure, because they aren't so many.

George Enescu was the teacher of world renewed violinists , amon which the most famos is Yehudi Menuhin. He was also a great pianist , and a great composer. Also , formidable conductor. And he was a very humble , kind man. Yes , he was special from all points of view.

November 21, 2008 at 09:33 PM ·

Enescu was quite old when this recording was made. I would like to see what some of our modern violinists would do with these post age 60. 

Enescu's tonal aesthetic was a bit different from ours but I would like to challenge you to point out some of the wrong notes. I own these recordings so give me piece Sonata/Movement and measure number and let me hear for myself.  

Enescu was a great musician. The Amadeus Quartet said that when they were young he coached them on the Beethoven String Quartets and that he could play them all on the piano from memory. 

November 22, 2008 at 04:31 AM ·


Corwin, you are right on about Enescu.  Unfortunately the recording of the Bach sonatas and partitas does contain a substantila number of intonation errors and slips which could easily be identified.  Nonetheless the power and artistry shines through and it is not at all hard to ignore them. Especially the Chacconne remains for me one of the greatest performances ever.  I am often touched when I talk to top Japanes esoloists who admit that Enescu is their favorite Bach.  That shows some class I think;)



November 22, 2008 at 05:00 AM ·

When he finally recorded the Bach, I think he had some major health issues-- spinal problems,perhaps?

Nevertheless, he was one of the great all-rounders, and a huge personality.

He also figures in one of the funniest (and nastiest) jokes about a musician.  It seems that one of his students at the Conservatoire was about to give a big recital and as an accomplished pianist, Enescu was going to be his accompaniest.  There was also the thought that his presence might enhance public interest in the debut.

Anyway, he was hanging around backstage, and Cortot the Conservatoire's director, passed by and they started chatting.  This went on for a while until it was time to go onstage and Cortot said "Why don't I stay and turn pages for you and we can finish the discussion at intermission."

Next day, a critic who had been persuaded to come wrote of the page turner who should have been at the keyboard turning pages for a man who should have been playing the violin-- all in service for the debut of a young man who should have been turning pages.

November 22, 2008 at 02:38 PM ·

There are intonation errors and then there is out of tune. So many modern recordings of the Bach S&Ps are just out of tune.  I will listen today but still am interested in someone providing me a specific or two. 

Speaking of intonation Charles Libove is reputed to have responded to critics of Fritz Kreisler's intonation by saying that his intonation was like the Mona Lisa but there were ocassionally fly specs as opposed to the intonation of many others that he likened to a mediocre painting of no quality.

November 22, 2008 at 04:38 PM ·

If you want to appreciate Enescu in his prime, get a Biddulph Lab 066, with his early recordings. His Chausson's poeme was and still is one of the very best ever.

BTW. Enescu original first LP editions, are some of the most wanted and expensive vinlys in the market. If you ever find the original Bach on 3 Continental red 10" mint condition, you can sell it at the least por u$s 5000 to 8000.-

November 24, 2008 at 10:47 PM ·


>There are intonation errors and then there is out of tune.

Indeed.  A crucial distinction that peple often fail to make. In Enescus case he suffered from both in the Bach.   I don`t care about missed notes too much but in some movements his perception of the intonation shifts to the sharp side.  I find This is quite common in older players ,  especially one sin poor health. Nonetheless his genius transcends all this absolutely effortlessly.

BTW I have a simple test for whether I am going to be able t stand a performance of the Beethoven.  I play the first soarng e string melody for the violin. If the player has good intonation it blend swith the orchetra.  In this case `good intonaion` means to me feeling music as an organic whole rather than as an individual.  A surprsiing number of big name players don`t ahve his.  One of the most perfect is,  in my opinion, Kreisler.



November 25, 2008 at 03:43 PM ·

...the recordings are home-made. I do not know if they have made some corrections lately, but I bought these about 40 years ago on 33LP's and you could hear all sort of noises ( cars in the street, someone slamming a door ect. ect.).

A very interesting approach. Enescu was old at the time and seldom practiced the violin. He simply did not performed anymore at the time...

November 26, 2008 at 10:10 AM ·

 i think that particular bach you speak of is one of my favorite recordings.  the mistakes don't bother me for some reason.  every time i hear bach with the slightest mistake today, it sounds nasty.  even without mistakes it doesn't effect me often.  what does this say?  

November 26, 2008 at 10:53 AM ·

It says that perhaps there were once people who got at the heart of the issue without letting the notes get in the way.  George scolds me for letting the notes get in the way of what I'm trying to say.  I'm too busy trying to make the trees to think about where I am in the forest. 

November 26, 2008 at 07:12 PM ·

I've recently been turned on to Enescu's recording of the Ysaye Ballade as well as the Chausson Poeme.  They are both very special recordings if for no other reason than the ravishing tone; but then ther's the intelligence, musicality, and insight that he brings to the table with these pieces.  This is violin playing of a very high order.  Not always to my own personal taste but notwithstanding this is/was music making and violin playing that should not be ignored.  It is the kind of playing that feels like a masterclass.

November 26, 2008 at 07:57 PM ·

Enescu was an incredible musician. Having studies Bach's music he knew it all from memory and could play it ALL on the piano after being given a BWV number, except for the works in one of the volumes of the complete Bach edition, which he had missing from his library - not an urban myth, but something he enjoyed doing relatively often, apparently, as a way to check his own memory and to remind himself of Bach's greatness...

And, yes, Enescu's Octet is something to behold. Romanians like to treat him as a national tresure, although much of his music is actually imbued with late French Romanticism, notwithstanding deliberate treatment of Eastern European infuences (Romanian Rhapsodies, Violin Sonatas).

November 26, 2008 at 08:08 PM ·

Very few know that Enescu was for a long time the teacher of Ginette Neveu. ( She was under the tuition of Flesh from 14 to 19 approx.) She entered his class when aged 11 and Enescu wrote a letter about Neveu's incredible rendition of Bach at such a young age. Even when on the road at 28, Neveu was still attending Enescu's masterclasses with her brother Jean in Paris

November 26, 2008 at 09:17 PM ·

You should try Enescu's string quartets: dark, hard and complicated works, miles appart from the Romanian Raphsodies; or his cello sonata; another dark piece. He was a complete 20th.century composer and those works show that clearly.

November 26, 2008 at 10:25 PM ·


I would strongly recommend, (beg?) pro groups to take a much longer and deepe rlook at all Enescu@s chamber works.  he was an extraordinary compoerand the rewads are very high.  I think Naxos has made an efofrt to get some of them recorde dove rhte last few years.



November 27, 2008 at 12:11 AM ·

Absolutely, Enescu was an extraordinary composer. Besides his chamber works, his rarely performed , haunting opera Oedipus was his most cherished work, apparently he resented the time he was taken away from working on it by his violinist activities.

Jay, I'd love there to be a recording of his playing Ysaye Ballade, but I'm pretty sure there isn't !? His Poeme is magic. There is a famous photo of him, his face, apparently whilst playing Poeme: I find it the most extraordinary picture of a violinist "in action". I find his most memorable recording is the Largo Espressivo by Pugnani. Desert island material..otherworldy. Among his many disciples, I think Menuhin and Ferras sound the most influenced by him. But all those who came into contact him revered him, it seems. For all its technical flaws, I can' t think of anyone who makes the Bach so pulsating with life, with humanity.  And the frailties play their part in this. It may take some time to get used to, but I'd feel sorry for those who cannot at all get beyond the technical hitches!


Best, Nathaniel 

November 28, 2008 at 11:28 PM ·

 Ivry Gitlis has a lot of Enescu influence in his playing as well

December 1, 2008 at 06:08 PM ·


Enescu's Ysaye Ballade is on You Tube.  It's quite amazing!


December 3, 2008 at 12:51 AM ·

Jay, you had me very, very intrigued for a minute, but unfortunately that isn't Enescu, the person who posted a clip of Kaler playing Ballade calls himself Enescu. Oh well...N.

December 4, 2008 at 06:04 PM ·

Kaler???  Well it's amazing playing with a very interesting tonal palatte(sp??)  As I said not to my taste  but just because I don't like it doesn;t mean I can't recognise fine playing.


May 25, 2009 at 03:46 AM ·

In matters of artistic insight in violin playing Enescu is second only to Ginette Neveu. Enecsu was of the belief that it is impossible for any human to practice the necessary amount of time to enable themselves to give technically flawless performances, and at the same time retain the artistic sensitivity to truly transfigure the music in performance. For him, the music was the important thing. It would be wise if people today would remember the saying: 'Virtuosity without music is nothing.' (was it Brahms who said that, or someone else? I can't remember offhand)

I can't stand listening to most modern violinists, no matter how technically perfect they are. There always seems to be something missing in the music. I don't care how bad the recording technology was years ago, or how many technical errors would be made - I still always prefer listening to violinists such as Ysaÿe, Thibaud, Enescu, Sarasate, and Neveu (though she rarely made technical mistakes), and the pianist Cortot.

May 25, 2009 at 04:00 AM ·


I collect `moments` of violin nirvana.  These are small sections of playing that are just so beautiful one could put them on a deep space probe with a message like `Okay we messe d up on the prunes but this is humanity at it@s bets.  We can do no more.`   One such moment is Milstein playing the opening of the second movement of the gOldmark.  Another is Thibaud@s entry in the Chausson conerto for quartet and orchestra.  It would send shiver sdown the spine of the most jellyfied invertebrate in existence. 




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