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Lalo's 'Cello Concerto is probably his best work and has been recorded many times. However, it seems to be less conspicuous in the concert hall now, 'cellists having abandoned it in favour of more overtly emotional concertos by Dvorak and Elgar. It has not, in fact, been performed at the London Proms since 1921! It is a lean, muscular, dramatic and exciting work quite unlike any other Romantic 'cello concerto. However, that does not imply that there is any lack of lyrical writing. Indeed all three movements include unforgettable melodies. The concerto is also very tautly and clearly constructed, the middle movement neatly dovetailing scherzo and slow movement. Lalo's musical fingerprints (ostinato patterns and loud punctuating chords) are very much in evidence. I'm a big fan of this piece and wish it a speedy return to the concert hall.
Unfortunately, the Symphony, even though it was championed and recorded by Beecham, is not consistently in the same class. It has never been performed at the Proms! The booklet suggests that the opening of the first movement is reminiscent of Schumann's Second Symphony but what will immediately strike you is its obvious melodic kinship with the opening horn call from Brahms' Second Piano Concerto which had been written five years earlier. The influence of Brahms rather stifles Lalo's own voice in this movement which is, frankly, a rather turgid and unimaginative affair. However, the symphony now improves. Lalo's voice resurfaces in the tightly written scherzo which includes a melodious trio. The slow movement is also attractively lyrical if not really memorable. The finale, which creates that nervous mood so characteristic of the composer, neatly and effectively incorporates elements from the previous movements but without sacrificing momentum.Read more ›
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