Enescu – Romanian Rhapsody No. 2 in D Major

by Max Derrickson

Romanian Rhapsody No. 2 in D Major

George Enescu
(b Liveni Vîrnav [now renamed George Enescu], nr Dorohoi, August 19, 1881; d Paris, May 4, 1955)

The history of Romania, like so many countries in Europe, began with the Romans and was followed by the successive invasions by the Goths, Huns, Avars, and others.  The area’s several provinces were under exchanging rule and wars, and not until 1881 was Romania finally declared its own kingdom.  In 1881, too, was born the musical prodigy George Enescu.  By the age of 8, he had learned violin, some composing skills, entered a music conservatory, and given his first recital.  [. . .]  played for Brahms on several occasions, and was, by the age of 17, hailed in Romania as a figure of national importance.  Following its long-sought autonomy, Nationalism was prominent in Romania, [. . .]  His brilliance was regarded as a phenomenon by his contemporaries (for instance, he knew every note of Wagner’s entire Ring cycle by heart).  Because of his active schedule, his compositions number only 33, yet had he not been so modest and anti-self promoting, his works other than his flashy Nationalistic pieces might be better remembered.

The Romanian Rhapsodies themselves became somewhat of an albatross for Enescu, who regretted their popularity which overshadowed his later, more mature works.  Nonetheless, they are wonderfully unique and fresh, [. . .] are extraordinarily charming vignettes of Romanian life.

[. . .] Rhapsody No. 2 in D Major, the more subtle and arguably the more artistic of the two.   Unison strings introduce a somewhat lilting but solemn tune evoking [. . .]  beautifully mysterious modal bridge passage which leads into a stunning harmonic metamorphosis [. . .] Enescu returns to the anthem tune again but with a slightly sweeter touch.  The rather carefree postlude [. . .] folk dance, [. . .] a quick quote from the First Rhapsody, and then a quiet and searching passage subsiding to the end.