Friday, June 14, 2013

CCC 075 - Pascal Bentoiu

Romanian composer Pascal Bentoiu is this week's subject of the Consonant Classical Challenge. Bentoiu (b. 1927) has had a long and successful career as a conductor, educator, and a composer. Among his accomplishments, he has created performing editions of Georges Enescu's symphonies. And it seems he's absorbed some of Enescu's style as well.

Bentoiu is a modernist. The forms he casts his music in are only loosely based on earlier models. His music can be highly chromatic, with some strong dissonances and aggressive sounds. Bentoiu has collected Romanian folk music, and composed a number of art songs, choral works and operas. His affinity for lyrical melody extends to his instrumental works as well.

The Prelude to his opera Hamlet is a good example of his compositional style. The wordless chorus effectively sets the scene for the drama to follow.

Bentoiu has an impressive catalog of major works. He's written eight symphonies, six string quartets, and two piano concertos. His second piano concerto may appear somewhat thorny, but there's a strong tonal underpinning that keeps the work on track.

Te slavesc pe Tine is a setting by Bentoiu of  a traditional Romanian chant. It shows how effectively  Bentoiu can work creatively within the constraints of tradition.

Within Romania, and throughout Eastern Europe, Pascal Bentoiu is a well-respected and influential composer.  I wish he were better-known in this country. I'd especially like to hear his symphonic output. Unfortunately, there are no recordings available of his music (at least that I could find). So for now, Romanian concert-goers have the advantage over us. Based on the few examples here, I would say that our concert programs are much the poorer for the omission.

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