FOR THE CURIOUS CELLIST

Lalo’s Cello

While Eduard Lalo (1823-1892) is known mainly for his magnificent Violin Concerto (Symphonie Espagnole), his Cello Concerto (1877) is also a wonderful piece that no cellist should miss out on the pleasure of playing  (play-along piano accompaniments are available on Youtube). How strange that such a fine composer is almost unknown except for these two magnificent pieces. Perhaps this is because his style was quite cosmopolitan and not sufficiently “french” to ignite the patriotic flame in his home ground. How could his compatriots champion a composer who included in a lot of his works elements of spanish folk music (see the second and third movements of his cello concerto) and whose compositional style has been described as having a “germanic solidity” that distinguishes him from other french composers of his era? Perhaps he befell the same fate as Bizet, whose opera “Carmen” was disastrously received in Paris in 1875, just two years before the composition of Lalo’s Cello Concerto.

As a string player, playing both violin and viola, Lalo seems to have understood string-writing very well and his Cello Concerto is a masterpiece in idiomatic writing for the instrument. Here below is a compilation of passages from the cello concerto that could, should, or must, be played in thumbposition:

Lalo’s Thumb