Strigoii; Pastorale fantaisie
Rodica Vica (soprano), Tiberius Simu (tenor), Bogdan Baciu (baritone),
Alin Anca (narrator);
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Gabriel Bebe elea
Capriccio C5346 53:15 mins
A remarkable number of previously unknown works by George Enescu have resurfaced in recent years. The latest is the oratorio Strigoii (Ghosts) setting a text by Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu and composed in the middle of World War I. Enescu appears to have completed a vocal piano arrangement of the work in a remarkably quick period of time. Yet owing to the chaotic political situation, the manuscript was apparently mislaid, and the composer never got around to revising or orchestrating Strigoii.
Thanks to Romanian musicians Cornel ranu and Sabin Pautza who have reconstructed Strigoii and clothed it in suitably idiomatic instrumentation, as well as to the fine vocal and orchestral contributions on this recording, we can now appreciate a fascinating score whose most striking feature is the extensive declamatory speaking role for the narrator. Stylistically, Enescu’s writing seems closely related to Debussy, Bartók and even Schoenberg, frequently inhabiting a half-way house between the hyper-romanticism of his Third Symphony and the more austere archaic idiom of his operatic masterpiece, Oedipe.
Another intriguing discovery is the early unpublished Pastorale fantaisie for small orchestra, first heard in Paris in 1899. Given the relatively positive response to its first performance, it is unclear why the composer should have overlooked such an attractive and imaginative work, and it is played here with great warmth and sensitivity. Erik Levi PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★