Classical CD Reviews

LALO: Violin Concerto in F Major; Cello Concerto in D Minor; Piano Concerto – Yuzuko Horigome, violin/ Viviane Spanoghe, cello/ Philippe Bianconi, p./ Orch. Philharmonique de Nice/ Marco Guidarini – Talent

Three of Edouard Lalo’s concertos receive conscientious treatment (rec. 5-8 September 2011) from ardent and gifted soloists.

Published on November 10, 2013

LALO: Violin Concerto in F Major; Cello Concerto in D Minor; Piano Concerto – Yuzuko Horigome, violin/ Viviane Spanoghe, cello/ Philippe Bianconi, p./ Orch. Philharmonique de Nice/ Marco Guidarini – Talent

LALO: Violin Concerto in F Major, Op. 20; Cello Concerto in D Minor; Piano Concerto in F Minor – Yuzuko Horigome, violin/ Viviane Spanoghe, cello/ Philippe Bianconi, piano/ Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice/ Marco Guidarini – Talent DOM 3810, 78:43 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

Composer Edouard Lalo (1823-1892) did not create the concerted masterpieces for which he remains noteworthy until he was in his fifties. Encouraged as a foil to the ever intimidating Wagner tradition, Lalo’s work found adherents in the concerts of Jules Pasdeloup, Charles Lamoureux, and Edouard Colonne. Another powerful supporter and advocate, Pablo de Sarasate, provided a willing champion for any of Lalo’s violin works, particularly the “Spanish” Symphony for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 21 (1875). Here, three of Lalo’s concertos receive conscientious treatment (rec. 5-8 September 2011) from ardent and gifted soloists.

The Violin Concerto in F Major (1874) was supposed to mark a new direction for Lalo’s oeuvre, but the piece would never enjoy the same popular acclaim accorded Symphonie espagnole. The opening Andante – Allegro projects a martial hue, offset by a melancholy lyrical figure surrounded by a halo of strings and winds. While the entire atmosphere proves both pleasant and virtuosic in a manner well suited to Sarasate’s reputed gifts, it rarely makes a potent impression. The flowing second movement, Andantino, has much to say about Lalo’s lyric style, the aria strongly operatic in character. The fluttering trill soloist Horigome sports makes a charming impression. The pomp of the Allegro con fuoco places an active tympani against the violin for a rather dazzling bravura display, the level of virtuosity and the litheness of the tune reminiscent of Wieniawski at his best. The ravishing tone of Ms. Horigome’s 1741 Guarneri del Gesu deserves some credit for the polished fire of her performance.

The D Minor Cello Concerto (1877) opens with a Lento section, mainly an extended cadenza for Ms. Spanoghe’s own suave instrument by Francesco Ruggeri from 1680. Two themes dominate the ensuing Allegro maestoso, one a fanfare, the other a nostalgic song. Some truly lovely dialogues between cello and Mr. Guidarini’s fine orchestra extend the emotional largesse of this sonata-form first movement. The second movement marks an innovation of a kind: Lalo presents an Intermezzo cast in two affects, an Andantino of some warmth and a light Iberian Allegro presto that converses gaily with the woodwinds. The last movement may seem the most “German,” a rondo that opens Andante and proceeds Allegro vivace. More intriguing is the appearance of a tune Sarasate himself would adapt to one of his own Spanish Dances. The last pages of this rendition quite catch fire, and for many a prospective purchaser, the justification lies in this performance.

Lalo’s Piano Concerto in F Minor (1889) represents a kind of personal testament from the composer, dedicated to Louis Diemer of the Paris Conservatory. The Lento – Allegro opening movement, loudly declamatory, has a distant kinship with the theme that opens the Brahms Third Symphony. The dark cast of the sonata-form may remind some of  the mastery of the form Saint-Saens achieved, but without his light touch. What impresses us derives from the seamless quality of the writing, in which the ideas flow organically out of each other. The stentorian Lento once more allows few moments of respite until well along, the theme’s having been hammered out in various dynamics. One might feel an influence of this Concerto in D’Indy’s Symphony on a French Mountain Air. The last movement Allegro picks up the energy, albeit dark and ungainly in its dancing. The theme has a vague likeness to Liszt’s Wild Jagd Etude in C Minor. Pianist Philippe Biancoli – we recall his winning the Silver Medal in the Seventh Van Cliburn Competition – lends a pair of powerful hands to the proceedings, which often become brilliantly virtuosic. The movement provides an elegant study in dynamic contrasts as well as orchestral finesse.  That this concerto warrants more attention may well have been proved in this thoughtful, compelling performance.

—Gary Lemco




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