ENESCU George, Violin Sonata No.2 Op.6

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Born in Romania, George Enescu was a child prodigy and he entered the Vienna Conservatory at the age of seven. His teachers there included Joseph Hellmesberger and Robert Fuchs, and in 1891 Enescu was introduced to Brahms. After graduating in Vienna at the age of twelve, Enescu moved to Paris where he studied with Fauré and André Gedalge – both of whom also taught Ravel. Enescu’s Violin Sonata No. 2 was written in April 1899 when he was 17 years old – and still a student. Its premiere was given in Paris on 22 February 1900 by Jacques Thibaud with the composer at the piano, and the sonata was dedicated to Thibaud and his pianist brother, Joseph. Enescu himself recalled that the opening theme first came into his head during a walk when he was 14: ‘I carried it inside me for three years; then, at the age of seventeen, I wrote my Second Violin Sonata in the space of a fortnight.’ As Enescu’s biographer Noel Malcolm has noted, the work has ‘an extraordinary unity, mainly because of the way it is pervaded by the long, mysterious … theme which opens the first movement.’ This theme is developed and transformed throughout the Sonata, giving the whole work a powerful coherence. The musical language has occasional echoes of Fauré, but even in this early work, Enescu was a highly original creative voice, even incorporating elements of the modes and harmonies of his native Romanian folk music in the slow movement.  

 

© Nigel Simeone

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