|About this Recording
8.550494 - LALO: Symphonie espagnole / SARASATE: Zigeunerweisen / RAVEL: Tzigane
Edouard Lalo (1823 -
Sarasate (1844 - 1908)
Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921)
Ravel (1875 - 1937)
Edouard Lalo's Symphonie espagnole is among the most popular works in the violinist's repertoire. Lalo's name may be Spanish but his family had established themselves in northern France in the 16th century .The composer was born in Lille in 1823, son of a father who had served in Napoleon's armies. Early training at Lille Conservatoire in violin and cello was followed, at the age of sixteen, by a brief period of study in Paris with the violinist and conductor Habeneck and private lessons in composition. In Paris, in independence of his father, who disapproved of his son's choice of career, he earned a living as a violinist and as a teacher, while writing music that did not achieve the success he needed. From the 1850s he was particularly involved in performance as viola-player in the Armingaud Quartet, and later in his own quartet, ensembles that re-introduced to the French public the classical quartet repertoire of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
It was not until the 1870s that Lalo began to make an impression as a composer, with the performance of his Violin Concerto in 1874 by Pablo Sarasate, to whom the Symphonie espagnole of the same year was dedicated. This was followed by other orchestral compositions, including the successful Cello Concerto and a series of works for solo violin and orchestra. Still greater success came at last in 1888 with the production of his opera Le roi d'Ys at the Opéra-Comique, after a series of earlier operatic disappointments. He died in 1892.
Symphonie espagnole is a symphony only in name. The mood of the work is established at the start with the brief orchestral introduction, followed by the entry of the soloist and the characteristic Spanish rhythms of the principal theme. The second scherzando movement, with its contrasting central section, is followed by a characteristically Spanish Intermezzo and a lyrically moving slower movement that grows in intensity with its idiomatically Spanish turns of phrase. The work ends with a final Rondo of bright elegance and charm in which there is ample opportunity for virtuoso display.
The Spanish violinist Pablo Sarasate studied in Paris and at the age of fifteen started on a concert career that was to bring him fame throughout Europe and the Americas. Composers who wrote for him include Bruch, and his fellow-violinists Joachim and Wienawski. For his own use he wrote a number of works for violin of which his Gypsy piece, Zigeunerweisen, Opus 20, was published in Leipzig in 1878.
Camille Saint-Saëns, a composer whose life spans a vast period, from the age of Schumann and Mendelssohn to that of Ravel and Debussy, and whose works embrace every conceivable genre, wrote two of his violin concertos for Sarasate, as well as the very Spanish Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. The same Spanish element informs the well known Havanaise, written in 1887.
Having left the Paris Conservatoire in 1895, Ravel returned two years later to study with Gabriel Fauré. He nevertheless failed to win any prize for composition, an achievement that was obligatory for the continuance of studies. His attempts to win the Prix de Rome in successive years brought no result, while he was at the same time winning considerable success outside the academic world. This success continued, while the scandal of his ultimate failure to win the Prix de Rome in 1904 led to the resignation of the Director of the Conservatoire and his replacement by Fauré, a composer of more progressive tendencies. In the years after the 1914 - 1918 war, during which he served as a driver, Ravel moved out of Paris. His compositions of this period include a violin sonata, a sonata for violin and cello in memory of Debussy and the famous >Tzigane, written in 1924 for the Hungarian violinist Jelly d'Aranyi, whose own improvised additions the composer added to the completed work. Ravel reportedly remarked that he had no idea w hat she was doing, as she played the piece, but he liked it. The Tzigane remains a show-piece of the violin repertoire, whether in the version for violin and orchestra or in its original form, for violin and piano, designed by the composer to test the musical and technical ability of any performer and later described by one of Ravel's friends as a violinist's minefield. The work captures the spirit of gypsy improvisation, its art successfully concealing art.
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice (PNRSO)
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