• Present Arts

"This is such an intelligent album."

"Half Romanian but living in northern Germany, she is a wise choice as an interpretor of these major Enescu works. They have an engaging depth, allied with an exploratory feel that stands repeated listening perhaps more than some of his over complex, sometimes over demonstrative orchestral pieces.

The First Sonata, from the early 1920s, owes much to Debussy, hardly surprising given both were immersed in Parisian musical life at the same time, though Enescu retains elements of Fauré too. It is a relaxed, mainly gentle piece and Parkhomenko never puts it under undue stress while maintaining the lyrical line with a lovely sense of melodic progression. She is very persuasive and one wonders whether it is just big country nationalism that keeps this sonata out of recitals in Paris, London and Berlin.

The Des Cloches Sonores Suite is Enescu’s early (1903) nod to classicism, its four movements marked Toccata, Sarabande, Pavane and Bourée, but this is very art nouveau baroque and he makes full use of the possibilities of the bell-like chordal conglomerations that the title implies. Again it demonstrates that he was writing this music alongside Debussy and Ravel, not trying to follow them (he was only six years younger than Ravel). Parkhomenko sounds as if she thoroughly enjoyed getting her fingers round its effects.

The Third Sonata dates from 1933, by which time Enescu was back in Bucharest, caring for his mentally fragile wife. None of the disruption appears in the music, however, and Enescu was happy to admit that he was composing to escape the tribulations of everyday reality. Nonetheless there is nothing lightweight about the writing and Parkhomenko finds a proper balance between the rhapsodic and the cheerful. The central movement, Andante cantabile, hardly moves at all at the beginning but then Parkhomenko lets it unfold with calm reflection. There is no need to hurry the song and she doesn’t. In others hands this music can seem rambling but she always keeps just enough sense of direction to forestall that.

This is such an intelligent album. Parkhomenko may not have come to the notice of the big agents and promoters on a regular basis yet (the COVID hiatus came at just the wrong moment for her) but she surely deserves to. I would love to hear her in that French repertoire that Enescu was so immersed in."

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