Piano Trio No.2 in b minor
The name Lalo is of Spanish origin, and although Lalo's family had settled in the north of France some 300 years before he was born, he was fascinated by Spain and this can be heard in several of his works, including his Piano Trio No.2, which has no opus number, but is known to date from around 1852. The first movement, Allegro maestoso, begins quietly in a Schumannesque fashion with an attractive, yearning melody. Slowly the music builds in dynamics and tension. Suddenly Lalo inserts a dramatic, downward-plunging chromatic passages which sets things off. The main theme of the slow movement, Andante con moto, given out by the piano alone, has an almost religious quality to it. The highly romantic second theme has a wonderful duet between the strings. It is in the third movement, Minuetto, allegretto, that a Spanish element appears. Neither a minuet nor an allegretto, it is a rhythmically interesting scherzo. After a short introduction, an off-beat, Spanish style rhythm and melody is seamlessly woven into a more Germanic whole. The exciting and dramatic finale, Allegro agitato, crowns this very fine work.
Édouard Lalo (1823-1892) today, outside of France, is best known for his Symphonie Espagnole for violin and orchestra and perhaps his cello concerto. Within France, he is remembered for his opera Le roi d'Ys. Hardly anyone knows or has heard his excellent chamber music, which includes three very appealing piano trios and a string quartet. Lalo was born in Lille and studied at the local conservatory there before entering the Paris Conservatory, where he studied with the well-known French violinist and conductor, François Habeneck. Before he made a name for himself as a composer, for nearly two decades, Lalo made his living working as a violinist, and in particular, performing chamber music. If one considers this, it is perhaps not so surprising that he was able to write such attractive and finished chamber works.
In describing Lalo's music, it is clear that he has a gift for writing appealing melodies. His tonal world is that of Schumann and Mendelssohn but modified by uncommonly colorful and exotic harmonies, sometime bizarre rhythms and the use of powerful contrasts in dynamics. Structurally, Lalo was influenced by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schumann, most probably because his teacher had helped to popularize their music within France.
Printed only once, and unfortunately in a second rate French edition, the Second Trio has been unavailable since 1900. We have reprinted this edition but with some modifications and corrections. It is entirely serviceable, however, it does not match the quality one typically finds in German editions from the same period.