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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Sylvio LAZZARI (1857-1944)
Piano Trio
Violin Sonata
Trio de France
rec May 1996, Studio 106, Radio France, Paris.
ARION ARN 68360 [75.17]

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Looking back over my haphazardly instinctive and aleatory journey through music I owe a great deal to the knowledge and generosity of friends - a generosity I have never adequately or in some cases at all reciprocated - at least not in measure to my gain. Time perhaps to mention a few names though there will be many inadvertent omissions.

First there is Paul Tozer to whom I owe most of my initial musical experiences around an LP collection largely assembled from sales at W H Smiths (a heavy reliance on Supraphon). Paul has his own website where you can read chapters from his science fantasy novel. Then comes Simon Allen from my years at Bristol. Simon stirred me into going to live concerts at Bristol's Colston Hall and introduced me to the still unmatched Leonard Bernstein version of Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2. Richard D C Noble's mountainously inclusive archive of radio tapes, LPs, 78s, CDs takes up much of the same rambling mansion at Godalming which it continues to engulf. Hubert Culot (a fellow reviewer here) has guided me towards the nooks and crannies of French-speaking musical renaissance. Paul Bruyère has been an invaluably attentive and highly literate guide through the dustier realms of the French musical renaissance of the last century. Professor Roger Parsons at Southampton has blessed me with many rare tapes taken down from Radio 3 and his years in France when France Culture was still around as a radio station. It was due to Paul Bruyère that I developed an interest in Lazzari and to Roger that I was able to appreciate, through an ORTF tape, Lazzari's 1901 operatic tragedy La Lépreuse (still unrecorded commercially).

Lazzari was of Austro-Italian parentage and spent most of his life in Paris. That said Brittany was the focus of much of his musical inspiration. With the exception of the opera Mélaenis (1913) all the operas were inspired by Brittany its beauty and its wildness: classics examples include Le Sauteriot (1913) and La Tour de Feu (1925). According to the notes the latter was the first opera to employ cinema in its structure. This is incorrect. The first such opera was Joseph Holbrooke's Dylan, Son of the Wave premiered by Beecham in London in the early 1910s.

The Trio swoons and reels amid Schumann-like lyricism. Into the music is also woven a Beethovenian turbulence jostling with Mendelssohnian charm of such an order that it could easily find a place in the salon. Speaking of Beethoven, there is one remarkable echo in a major theme in the first movement. This is surging romance of high order though I do feel that the themes lack the ultimate exalted distinction. However there is much to engage amid the undulating cantabile and Brahmsian tempest.

Cellist, Hervé Derrien withdraws for the Violin Sonata leaving us to the ministrations of Jacques Duhem (violin) and Madeleine Virlogeux. This work, written seven years after the trio and in the same year as the string quartet (does anyone have a recording of the quartet?), was taken up by Ysaÿe (the dedicatee) who performed it over a thirty year period. This is a very songful piece with spiritual affinity with Beethoven's Spring Sonata. It is a more personal piece than the Trio. Certainly it is ambitious with a seventeen minute first movement succeeded by two 10 minute movements: a lento and a con fuoco. The lento is a striking gestural piece - fresh and uncloyed by its nineteenth century context. Especially in the finale one can easily envisage this as a violin concerto manqué.

This is the world premiere of the Trio.

The Lazzari Symphony and Four Seascapes can be heard on a Marco Polo CD.

We must hope for recordings of the tone poem Effet de Nuit and the Concertstück for piano and orchestra.

Arion have done all of us a great service in releasing these two Radio France tapes. The music is complemented by fine notes by Joël-Marie Fauquet.

Rob Barnett

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