skip to Main Content

The remarkably close partnership between violin and piano that Rowland and Kudritskaya show in these recordings

Enescu Works For Violin And Piano On Champs Hill Records - Rowland Kudritskaya Duo

Audio Video Club of Atlanta, Phil Muse
George Enescu Works for Violin and Piano – Rowland Kudritskaya Duo

Violinist Daniel Rowland and pianist Natacha Kudritskaya, natives of London and Kiev, respectively, have a great time with three major works for violin and piano by George Enescu (1881–1955).

In doing research for the present review, I was shocked to find how little of the Roumanian composer’s music I had in my own listening library—basically only the two Roumanian Rhapsodies for orchestra and his Suite No. 2 for piano. Enescu is, in fact, probably the most under-represented of all the world’s great composers in concert programs and recordings.

There are several reasons for this scarcity. One obvious explanation is that Enescu was much in demand as a performing artist. He was world-class as both a violinist and a pianist, something I cannot recall to be the case of any composer since Mozart. His pupils and protegés included the likes of Yehudi Menuhin, Arthur Grumiaux, and Ivry Gitlis. He was also a conductor of some note. But perhaps the most important reason we don’t hear more of Enescu is that he was so very meticulous in the care with which he approached any new work of music.

Violin Sonata No. 3 in A minor, heard on the present program, will give even the most casual listener an impression of how carefully Enescu approached his art. It is extremely densely annotated in terms of the small details one is expected to negotiate in order to achieve the improvisatory sound of folk fiddling and the essentially Roumanian character of the music—indications as to which part of the bow to use on which strings, the precise degree of vibrato, and how to execute the many ornaments the composer calls for. As Rowland has expressed it, “One needs an accountant’s attention to detail coupled with the fiery, limitless abandon of a gypsy!”

Other qualities which make this sonata distinctive, and which it also shares to some degree with Violin Sonata No. 2 in F minor, include its dreamlike quality and the tendency toward melancholy and minor keys, even in fast sections where you least expect it. Unless my ears are playing tricks on me, Enescu even explores semitones, at a time when few other composers concerned themselves with them.

Consider also Enescu’s fascination for the sounds of nature. Like Bartok in Hungary, he seemed to have had a preternatural sensitivity for nocturnal sounds—the chirrping of birds, the sussurient sounds of crickets. These traits reach an apex in Impressions d’enfance (Impressions of Childhood, Op. 28), in which Rowland claims to detect evocations of a street fiddler, a pitiful beggar, birdsong, a cuckoo clock, and moonlight streaming through the curtains of the child’s bedroom at night.

All of which calls for the remarkably close partnership between violin and piano that Rowland and Kudritskaya show in these recordings. Close miking, in which we can even hear the violinist’s sympathetic breathing, allows us to hear a wealth of vital details.

You may also like to see...
A powerful communication of the heart of the music

Chichester Observer, Chris Darwin

A masterly performance

The Westmorland Gazette, Clive Walkley

Enescu Works For Violin And Piano On Champs Hill Records - Rowland Kudritskaya Duo
Beautifully performed by Daniel Rowland and Natacha Kudritskaya…..Their musical approach is delicious…..

Music Frames, Mattie Poels

Enescu Works For Violin And Piano On Champs Hill Records - Rowland Kudritskaya Duo
Authenticity you might expect to hear from violinists such as Ivry Gitlis, Ida Haendel, Isaac Stern

Fanfare, Robert Maxham
George Enescu Works for Violin and Piano
Champs Hill Records CHRCD120

Violinist Daniel Rowland and pianist Natacha Kudritskaya begin their program of works by the Romanian composer and violinist George Enescu with a reading of his colorful Third Sonata, “dans le caractère populaire roumain,” that, in the first of its three movements, Moderato malinconico, misses few opportunities for communicating to listeners with bold gestures—in this case sharply defined, dynamically contrasted ones rendered exceptionally exotic by raw, smeary portamentos.

Two generations ago, I heard Isaac Stern make a similar impression in a live performance of the sonata; but in the auditorium the audience could watch as he lobbed pulverized musical phrases at one individual listener after another, making penetrating eye contact with each. I’d have been scared out of my wits if I’d been sitting in a front row.

Rowland and especially Kudritskaya fully indulge the mystery implied in the second movement’s title, Andante sostenuto e misterioso. Their command of timbral nuance hardly suggests makes their playing sound tightly controlled; at times they skirt close to the brink of abandon. In the finale, Allegro con brio, ma non troppo mosso, they once again make Enescu’s fragmentary gesticulations seem larger than life, especially in the tumultuous last page.

Throughout the sonata, in fact, they amply provide the kind of authenticity you might expect to hear from violinists such as Ivry Gitlis, Ida Haendel, Isaac Stern, or the composer himself—they’ve made of the work a force of nature in which they raise actual goosebumps. Yet Rowland never produces a quirkily unpleasant sound from the 1776 Lorenzo Storioni violin he plays—every timbral effect, no matter how lurid, seems to flow naturally from the expressive demands of the music itself.

The duo also finds the generative center of the Second Sonata’s first movement, which, though French in sensibility, contains haunting and daunting moments of overwhelming emotional power. Their reading of the slow movement disappears into a magical wisp of sound; the finale compounds stentorian statement with whimsy.

Impressions d’enfance, from 1940, makes very realistic references at times to the world of sound Enescu experienced as a young boy, weaving into its variegated sonic quilt a gypsy fiddler, an old beggar (whom Rowland presents in a surprisingly suave tonal garb), various bird calls, both free and caged (once again, Rowland never goes so far in realistic portrayal that he draws unpleasant sounds from his instrument—his means remain always musical ones), wind in the chimney, and, at the end, sunrise. Though these impressions may be surrealistically vivid, neither Enescu nor the duo ever make them sound maudlinly nostalgic.

With a blockbuster performance of the Third Sonata, a strong-minded one of the Second, and an almost Expresssionistic one of the Impressions, all in recorded sound that is sensitive to both tonal and dynamic nuance, these wide-ranging performances could leave listeners stunned by their power and insight. It’s risky to peer into the future, but this seems like a perfect item for the Want List. Urgently recommended.

Enescu Works For Violin And Piano On Champs Hill Records - Rowland Kudritskaya Duo
Magnificent chamber music of the highest level – 5 stars

Die Volkskrant

Enescu Works For Violin And Piano On Champs Hill Records - Rowland Kudritskaya Duo
Among the very finest performances of all three [Enescu] works that I have heard

American Record Guide, Joseph Magil
George Enescu Works for Violin and Piano – Rowland Kudritskaya Duo

Enescu Works For Violin And Piano On Champs Hill Records - Rowland Kudritskaya Duo
Daniel Rowland has a powerful, glamorous tone, gleaming at the top and throaty and rugged down at the bottom, and Natacha Kudritskaya matches him every bar of the way for passion, fantasy and precision.

Gramophone Magazine, Richard Bratby

Enescu Works For Violin And Piano On Champs Hill Records - Rowland Kudritskaya Duo
5 Stars from BBC Music Magazine for Rowland Kudritskaya Duo's Enescu

BBC Music Magazine, Elinor Cooper

Extraordinary praise for Rowland Kudritskaya Duo CD, Les années folles, on Dutch Radio 4

The Rowland Kudritskaya Duo‘s CD Les années folles was recently reviewed on the Dutch radio station NPO Radio 4, which is the equivalent of the UK’s BBC Radio 3.

The following comments were made live on air on the prestigious Dutch Radio 4 programme Discotabel, on which an expert panel ‘blindly’ reviews new recordings:

High praise from key Dutch national daily, NRC Handelsblad

NRC Handelsblad, Mischa Spel

Daniel Rowland and his piano playing partner Natacha Kudritskaya stand together as a guarantee of quality

Opus klassiek, Siebe Riedstra

Violinist Daniel Rowland was born in London but moved as a child to the village Weerselo in Twente, where he lived for fifteen years. His father is the British composer and conductor David Rowland (1939-2007), who taught at the Twente Conservatory. Daniel studied in the Netherlands with Davina van Wely and in Brussels with Igor Oistrakh. He learned much from the legendary virtuoso and pedagogue Ivry Gitlis. Rowland has been the  first violinist of the Brodsky Quartet since 2007, and in 2005 began his own festival in Weerselo, the Stift Festival, where there is an emphasis on less familiar and contemporary chamber music.

An outstanding recording with sublime playing

Platomania
“[The Rowland – Kudritskaya duo] brings with Les Années folles a magnificent programme for violin and piano”
“an outstanding recording with sublime playing”
“excellent portrayal of the diversity of those turbulent years”

Strong feeling and total immersion; every note had meaning and direction

Smålandsposten, Kjell Nilsson

Imagine the combination of virtuosity and profound musicality. Last spring , we heard the duo Rowland / Kudritskaya in Växjö and these two  certainly have these abilities.

Rowland and Kudritskaya demonstrated their unique musical partnership impressively, and their well-balanced interplay was not only beautiful to listen to but also exciting to watch

Concerto Net, Wiebke Kuester

Kitzbühel, an idyllic village in the Austrian Alps, is rather known for its world cup ski races and its mundane lifestyle. It is not necessarily the place you would expect a superbly curated chamber concert series.

Daniel Rowland and Natacha Kudritskaja – Hudiksvalls Tidning

Daniel Rowland and Natacha Kudritskaja – Hudiksvalls Tidning (27th February 2015)

Joy of playing – in a league of its own

Back To Top
22/09/2020