Album Reviews

Lalo – Symphonie Espagnole, Rapsodie Norvegienne, Cello Concerto – Pierre Amoyal (Violin), Frederic Lodeon (Cello), Monte Carlo Orchestra

(Apex) UK release date: 15 September 2003


Lalo - Symphonie Espagnole, Rapsodie Norvegienne, Cello Concerto  - Pierre Amoyal (Violin), Frederic Lodeon (Cello), Monte Carlo Orchestra Edouard Lalo is described as”one of the reformers of French instrumental music” in the booklet of this release, and it’s true to say that along with Franck and Saint-Saens he helped the musical public to appreciate another facet of France, rather than just the operatic one. Success for Lalo was not easily come by however, and only at the age of 50 did he win the respect of the concert going audiences with the Symphonie Espagnole. This work predates Bizet‘s Carmen by a month, and can claim to have started the tradition of Spanish-inspired Frenchworks, continued by the likes of Chabrier, Debussy and Ravel.

The dramatic opening to theIntermezzo of this piece leads to a habanera not dissimilar to that used by Bizet. Realised by Pierre Amoyal on this 30 year old Erato recording, the sound is not always top notch – a bit dry in places – but the performance is fully committed, often darkly passionate. The rich colours of the Andante’s dark beginning are powerfully portrayed by the Monte Carlo Orchestra under the direction of celebrated conductor Paul Paray, and the atmospheric opening to the finale gives way to a light, bouncy theme from Amoyal – one of those tunes that sparks an immediate deja-vu.

Also included on this disc is the Rapsodie Norvegienne, performed by the same forces. This much less substantial concertante work comes closer to Grieg in musical language but is still enjoyable, despite the dry sound once again. Making up the trio of Lalo works is a 1981 recording of the Cello Concerto, a work well-loved by cellists for its warm romanticism but which still struggles to get the exposure it deserves. Frederic Lodeon starts from the depths after an expansive unison from the orchestra, and from there he never looks back. An Intermezzo, a favourite central movement form of Lalo’s, leads to a rumbustuous finale, with Lodeon’s virtuosity amply supported by the Philharmonia under Charles Dutoit.

All of which completes a triptych of works that serve as a useful introduction to the work of this underperformed Frenchman. As a complement to this I would recommend another disc of Lalo orchestral works on the Chandos label under Yan Pascal Tortelier.


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Lalo – Symphonie Espagnole, Rapsodie Norvegienne, Cello Concerto – Pierre Amoyal (Violin), Frederic Lodeon (Cello), Monte Carlo Orchestra