Monday, 24 September 2012

Edouard Lalo - Symphonie Espagnole

Edouard Lalo
1823 - 1892
Edouard Lalo (full name: Edouard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo) was a French composer. My favourite of his works is the Symphonie Espagnole written for violin - and - I'm not the only one. Lalo's Spanish Symphony remains today to be a key work in any serious violinist's repertoire, and is even known simply as 'The Lalo'. His musical style is known for its powerful melodies and equally as powerful orchestrations.

Edouard Lalo's 'Symphonie Espagnole' was written in 1874 for violinist Pablo de Saraste. Although the piece is called a symphony, musicians today consider the work to be more of a violin concerto. I came across this piece when I was taking my grade 8 violin, as the fourth movement - andante - was on the list of recommended pieces. In the opening of the piece, we hear fragments of ideas from the violin melody throughout the orchestra in a much grander style. Similar to the piece, the orchestra in the introduction goes from minor to major, and back to minor again. Despite it's forceful and aggressive opening, the orchestra then diminuendos for the entrance of the violin - which is extremely delicate in comparison. However, from listening to this, one might assume the violin to be a gentle role in the movement. This is completely wrong, as the range of emotions that the instrument travels through in the music is enormous.

The recording of the fourth movement by violinist Maxim Vengerov is by far the best, as his playing sounds absolutely effortless and yet extremely precise - especially considering that all four movements are devilishly difficult. The technical difficulties in the piece are frequent, as the player has to conquer the huge intervals in the melody, endless trills, turns and other decorative techniques - as well as using the solo line to direct the orchestra. For this recording, I am completely in awe of both composer and performer - as both of their styles together create a crucial recording for all classical music lovers' collections. 
Listen here

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