Tchaikovsky finds inspiration in Lalo’s work

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Awkwardly beautiful. © Charles Thibo

Do you know Lalo? Of course you do, you have met him in a post two weeks ago! Edouard Lalo composed a piece called “Symphonie Espagnole” (Spanish Symphony) which inspired Pyotr Tchaikovsky to write his Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35. “Do you know the “Symphonie Espagnole” of the French composer Lalo?”, Tchaikovsky asks in a letter his patron Nadezhda von Meck in March 1878. “I liked this work very much. A lot of freshness, spiking rhythms, beautiful melodies with remarkable harmonies.” All this can be said about Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto.

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Taking it easy with Tchaikovsky’s caprice

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Summer! © Charles Thibo

Together with the Overture “1812” the Capriccio Italien (Op. 45) is the earliest work of Pyotr Tchaikovsky that I listened to. They were both on the same recording I got as a teenager for Christmas, the third piece being the Marche Slave. Its introduction is impressive enough for a young, ignorant mind. Trumpets! More brass joining the trumpets. And then the strings, a dramatic, earnest gesture, a hint of melancholy…

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The lady likes strange and wild harmonies

The violin rules. © Charles Thibo

It felt a little like meeting an old friend after many years. I sat at my desk on a rainy Saturday afternoon and listened to a piano trio written by Edouard Lalo. I was writing letters and my thoughts drifted. “Lalo, Lalo…”, I wondered. “Have I written about him?” Actually I have, in a post in November 2016. So why had I forgotten about him? The trio is beautiful, and he surely has written other lovely pieces. A quick research yielded a wealth of pieces unknown to me, and my joy over these discoveries was such that I had to insert an unscheduled post about Lalo’s Violin Concerto in F major, Op. 20 in my publishing schedule.

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Tonal instability illustrating the vagaries of life

To fear or not to fear? © Charles Thibo

Restlessness. Tension. Suffering. I feel it the moment I write this post. Pyotr Tchaikovsky must have felt the same way. His music depicts a life in disarray, marked by a troubling uncertainty, a deep personal vulnerability. The music triggers those sensations all the more easily since I am myself tense at the moment, restless, quickly irate. And while moments of joy and happiness pop up every now and then in Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No. 2 in F major (Op. 22), I find it hard not to feel miserable.

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