Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

EDOUARD LALO Symphonie Espagnole (1875) [32.52] ERNEST CHAUSSON Poème (1896) [15.51] MAURICE RAVEL Tzigane (1931) [9.36]   Vadim Repin (violin) London SO/Kent Nagano  ERATO 3984 27314 2 [58.37]
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Rather like the Bruch Scottish Fantasy, the Lalo Symphonie Espagnole is rather unfashionable repertoire these days. When did you last hear these works in concert. It is not as if they often feature on record. Perhaps part of their problem is that audiences have an inbuilt resistance to works of concerto-dimensions (plus 30 minutes) which avoid the name 'concerto'.

So far as entertainment value is concerned the Lalo has all the dazzle, smoke, fireworks and sultry Hispanics you could wish for and kilos of the atmosphere that made Bizet's Carmen such an enduring success. The work is uneven and amongst its five movements there are a few 'nodding' moments. Overall though it is a most attractive and (for the listener) undemandingly pleasurable work. Vadim Repin seems at peace with and positively to revel in this music no doubt aided by using Sarasate's own 'Ruby' Stradivarius, (the instrument on which Sarasate premiered the work). This work was a classic much beloved of Heifetz but this recording is clearly superior to the venerable RCA/BMG with a breezily ambient sound-canvas.

The other works are more popular (at least on CD - you don't hear many concert performances of these things) and are done with similar Latino and Gypsy temperament. Tzigane (bursting with oriental and Hungarian character) while the most recent (written in 1931) on disc sounds positively reactionary beside the varied and understated fantasy of the Chausson Poème - a revolutionary work for its age! There are no similarly coupled recordings and indeed comparatively few discs feature these works individually. Just a pity that the company were not able to include some other Gallic rarities (for violin and orchestra) in the shape of Schmitt's Habeyssée and Lalo's Norwegian Rhapsody. Next time please?

PSS Did you know that when Tzigane was premiered it was in a version where the soloist Jelly d'Aranyi was accompanied by a keyboard instrument called a luthiel (now long gone or museum fodder somewhere). Anyone care to record the piece in this form? It would presumably be a first.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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