Édouard(-Victoire-Antoine)  Lalo

Édouard Lalo (1823-1892)

Nationality: French | Spanish
Born: January 27, 1823, Lille
Died: April 22, 1892, Paris (age 69)
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Piano Trio No. 1 in c minor, Op. 7

(for violin, cello and piano)
6:17
I. Allegro moderato
5:37
II. Romance. Andante
3:49
III. Scherzo. Allegretto
5:39
IV. Final. Allegro
Duration: 22 minutes (approximately) - hide movement times
Composed: 1850 (age 26-27)
Published: c.1851 (age 27-28), Paris: Simon Richault
Dedication: à son ami Edmond Membrée
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3 recordings, 12 videos
5:59
Dorian Lamotte, et. al.
I. Allegro moderato
5:03
Dorian Lamotte, et. al.
II. Romance. Andante
3:55
Dorian Lamotte, et. al.
III. Scherzo. Allegretto
5:43
Dorian Lamotte, et. al.
IV. Final. Allegro
6:12
Stuttgart Piano Trio
I. Allegro moderato
6:19
Stuttgart Piano Trio
II. Romance. Andante
3:36
Stuttgart Piano Trio
III. Scherzo. Allegretto
5:25
Stuttgart Piano Trio
IV. Final. Allegro
6:45
Trio Salomon
I. Allegro moderato
5:36
Trio Salomon
II. Romance. Andante
3:58
Trio Salomon
III. Scherzo. Allegretto
5:35
Trio Salomon
IV. Final. Allegro

From Kai Christiansen:

Édouard Lalo, 1823-1892

Piano Trio No. 1 in C minor, Op. 7, 1850

Edouard Lalo Although Lalo's lasting reputation is based primarily on operatic and orchestral compositions, he demonstrated a lifelong passion for chamber music. He played violin and viola and was the founding member of the Armingaud Quartet, established in 1855 with the mission of introducing the chamber music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schumann to a French public largely obsessed with grand opera. During the 1850's, Lalo was among the first French composers to take up chamber music composition, ultimately producing three piano trios, a violin sonata, a cello sonata and a string quartet. Although these compositions are generally outside of the traditional repertoire, they are all fine works that deserve more exposure.

Lalo's first piano trio in C minor, Op. 7 was most likely composed around 1850 when Lalo was 27. The preceding decade witnessed the appearance of both piano trios by Mendelssohn (who was now deceased), two of Schumann's three trios, and the youthful trios of the Belgian César Franck. Brahms was merely 17 and his trios would not materialize for a good thirty years. It is not surprising that Lalo's musical character in this trio evokes Schumann and especially Mendelssohn, but placed within a French historical context, Lalo was a bold trailblazer establishing a fresh genre. The trio comprises four movements in a traditional Germanic style, and the prevailing key of C minor invests the work with a restless, dark and dramatic character full of strong dynamic contrasts and a big, powerful sound.

The opening movement is a crisp sonata form with two prominent themes, the first in C minor, and the second in E-flat major, a clear contrast of dark and light. Lalo was a lyrical composer and his themes tend towards complete melodies versus the shorter motive-based subjects of his Germanic models, a trait he shared with Mendelssohn. Curiously, the movement begins with a mournful recitative for solo cello introducing the first theme in a unique treatment. The finale reiterates this distinctive approach for a compelling sense of symmetry.

The second movement is a warm "song without words" in G major that begins like a rather dreamy salon piece with an easy demeanor and a nostalgic cast. The form is a clear ternary or three-part scheme, with a middle section adding a muscular march as a close variation of the first theme. Lalo embellishes the reprise with fresh textures, giving this traditional song-form the feel of a little theme and variations. A brief chromatic coda sustains a memory of the contrasting center.

The lively third-movement scherzo is marked throughout by a short rhythmic motive that leaps and gallops like a polonaise, a clear reference to Chopin who had charmed French society and passed away only one year before. The scherzo is interesting for at least two details of construction. First, the music begins in the relative major key as if yearning towards bright and cheery, but quickly and inevitably, the music turns dark. The same is true of the trio section. Second, with the return of the scherzo, Lalo does not rely on a simple and literal "da capo" repeat but thoroughly composes the reprise with extensions and developments of the opening material ending, surprisingly, in a major key. Full of rhythmic vitality and finesse, the entire movement has a kind of seamless continuity unusual for this typically more sectional form.

Beginning with a lonely cello recitative after the manner of the first movement, the finale seals the majestic tragedy of this work with a sweeping, dramatic drive highly reminiscent of Mendelssohn's two trios. Like his predecessor, Lalo intersperses long lyrical phrases of tender expression that nonetheless succumb to the turbulent rush towards a definitive conclusion in C minor. Throughout the work, Lalo displays excellent craftsmanship and the confident handling of parts like a musician intimately familiar with first-hand chamber music performance.

© Kai Christiansen. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Édouard Lalo and related chamber music composers
1850 1900 // last line 1937 Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) Robert Schumann (1810-1856) César Franck (1822-1890) Édouard Lalo (1823-1892) Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
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