The three Symphonies of multi-skilled George Enescu (1881-1955) – composer, violinist, pianist, conductor, teacher – have previously been catered for by Lawrence Foster (EMI), Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (Chandos) and Cristian Mandeal, a fellow-countryman of the composer (Arte Nova), as is Cristian Măcelaru, totally sympathetic to and deeply insightful of this music and who gets a committed, well-prepared response from his Paris-based orchestra, vividly recorded (9/22-7/23 at Radio France), kicking off with the two Romanian Rhapsodies – the popular First, spontaneous, with a cast of characters, and freewheeling/scintillating dancing – a performance on the level of (also natives) Celibidache (film, please see below) and Silvestri (Vienna Philharmonic), and, also commercially, not forgetting Previn (LSO) – with its Opus 11 companion wonderfully soulful from the Parisians.

Of the Symphonies, each in a major key (respectively E-flat, A, and C), the First has an arrestingly energetic opening movement of Nielsen-like edge and Korngoldian lyricism, perhaps equaling to Franz Schmidt, while, more importantly, reporting Enescu’s individuality, much to relish, with a slow movement suggestive of place (maybe the village where he was born, now named after him, as is a Romanian airport, and there’s the George Enescu Philharmonic stationed in Bucharest) and a Finale of confident arrival, which Enescu builds on in the hour-long Second, music with a plan that is impossible to second-guess, the listener required to embrace the composer’s exotic approach to composition, bar-by-bar fascinating over four generous movements. Slightly shorter is the three-movement Third, which the ONF and Măcelaru brought to last year’s richly international Enescu Festival, a score of many ideas and much incident, with a choir in the meditative and transporting final movement.

Enescu converts won’t hesitate to acquire this set of fastidiously revealing performances, living and breathing, ebbing and flowing, complemented by Rob Cowan’s booklet note, and those curious about Enescu’s music should start here. DG 486 5505 (3 CDs) is now the recommendation for this repertoire, return visits surely guaranteed.

https://store.deutschegrammophon.com/p51-i0028948655052/cristian-m-celaru-orchestre-national-de-france/george-enescu-symphonies-1-3/index.html

https://www.colinscolumn.com/category/enescu-festival-2023