The Lille-born Édouard Lalo (1823-92) studied at the Paris Conservatoire and died in that city. His most-famed work is the violin-and-orchestra Symphonie espagnole, followed by his score for the ballet Namouna. Other orchestral works include a G-minor Symphony and a propulsive Scherzo. His chamber-music catalogue embraces numerous examples, not least the three Piano Trios, handsomely and generously gathered on this Hyperion release by the Leonore Piano Trio.
Each is a pleasing work in four movements, very enjoyable to listen to. Captured in immediate recorded sound, the Leonore members are sterling advocates for these three works in which Lalo creates music that is well-crafted, tuneful and emotionally communicative. This is composition with a light touch and which is lucidly constructed. The C-minor Trio, believed to have been written in 1850, opens with an outgoing Allegro that will appeal to admirers of Mendelssohn, and the rest of the Trio is similarly expressive and unpretentious.
This amiable creation is followed by more-ambitious works, both lasting close on half-an-hour. The B-minor instance (probably written in 1852 and without-opus-number) contrasts robust, yearning and delicate aspects in the first movement, the slow movement is an intimate affair with song at its heart, and next comes a delightfully gawky Minuet. The Finale, although the shortest movement of the four, is a successful if restless resolution of the work for which Schumann would be a good reference.
From many years later, 1880, the A-minor Trio is closer to Brahms in its ardent declamation, if with Gallic insouciance. The musical ideas are strong. Guess what … the next movement, marked Presto, serves as the basis for the afore-mentioned orchestral Scherzo. In its chamber guise it is also terrific in its exciting drive and chiselled rhythms. The slow movement is as intense as it is veiled, and the Finale strides forth with determination and is not without meaningful twists. Aimez-vous Saint-Saëns's music? Then you will appreciate Lalo's.
These are pieces well-worth getting to know. They are thoroughly well-served by the performers and the production values and also by Roger Nichols’s enlightening booklet note.