String Quartet No. 2 : Work information

Composers
George Enescu ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Enesco Quartet

This work

Work name
String Quartet No. 2
Work number
Op. 22 No. 2
Key
G major
Genre
A
Composed
1951-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Label
Forlane CI
Producer
Ivan Pastor
Engineer
Jean-Martial Golaz
Recording date
1985-01-01 00:00:00

The Composers

George Enescu

Born Liveni Virnav in the Botosani district of Romania, the composer who was later to be known as Georges Enescu was playing violin at the age of four and composing the following year.  By the time he graduated from the Vienna Conservatoire in 1894 he was considered a mature musician, although he travelled to Paris to study composition under Fauré and Massenet.  In 1898 he performed his Violin Sonata with Cortot and in 1904 he formed the Enescu Quartet.  Enescu retained strong links with his homeland, coordinating concerts and instituting the Romanian Composers' Society.

The music Enescu grew up with exerted a strong influence over him.  Like Béla Bartók he assimilated gypsy influences into academic structures and made use of local dance forms.  However, Enescu's multiple commitments (he taught, amongst others, Yehudi Menuhin) left him little time for composition, and coupled with the huge scale of certain projects he composed few works after around 1914.  The opera Oedipe (1921-1931) was an epic masterpiece, encompassing the entirity of Sophocles' Greek tragedy.

Track listing

  • Molto moderato 5:21 min
  • Andante - Molto sostenuto ed espressivo 7:42 min
  • Allegretto non troppo mosso 3:18 min
  • Con molto moderato - energico 6:55 min

Notes

Having remained in Romania throughout the War, Enescu went into exile when the Communists took control in 1946. He briefly resumed his career as a violinist and gave more time to conducting, but was suffering from ill health and financial worries. Nevertheless, some of the composer's greatest chamber works were composed in these difficult times.

The Second String Quartet dates from 1951, the first having appeared in 1920. Enescu stays within the boundaries of tonality but his adoption of Romanian folk elements results in a highly individual sound world. Listen throughout the Quartet out for the extensive use of ponticello playing, a string technique where the bow is placed near or on top of the bridge, resulting in a thin scratchy sound. The most engaging movement is possibly the third movement scherzo, with its lopsided rhythms and unusual ending, but the lyricism of the opening Moderato and the potency and vigour of the finale are also attractive.