Grant Park Orchestra live, Wednesday at 6:30 pm
Christian Tetzlaff plays Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole.
February-March 1875, Paris – Within the span of one month, the Parisians saw the premieres of Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole and Bizet’s Carmen. For the audience, there was something different, something exotic about those pieces – eventually people would be whistling them in the streets.
It took time for those works to gain traction – especially for Carmen (tragically Bizet had only a few months to live, and would never know Carmen‘s popularity). Lalo’s Symphonie, written for Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate, wasn’t regularly performed intact until Yehudi Menuhin took it up in the 20th century. Nevertheless, both pieces anticipated a host of other works, all written in the Spanish style by people who were not Spanish, including Ravel, Chabrier, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Rimsky-Korsakov.
Lalo looked to the southwest for the Symphonie, filling it with irregular rhythms (see the score) taken from Spanish folk music, especially flamenco.
Until the 1870s, the German school had dominated European music outside of Italy. The French appetite for German culture cooled, however, in the wake of the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871); right when Bizet and Lalo were working on those pieces.
Download the score to Lalo’s Symphonie_espagnole,_Op._21_(orch._score)
Q. Have you ever tried to count along with Lalo’s Symphonie? It’s tricky to count out the second movement without following the music. (See page 41 in the score.) Part of the movement’s charm comes from the irregularly accented chords.
The Grant Park Orchestra welcomes violin soloist Christian Tetzlaff as soloist in Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole. Carlos Kalmar conducts a program that includes a symphony by Ernest Chausson and Halffter’s Tiento. WFMT’s live broadcast of the concert begins at 6:30.