String Quartet in E flat Major, Op.19
"It is a pity that Quartet Societies who are so lavish in programming the classics are so niggardly in programming other works, for certainly, a quartet such as Lalo's would be well worth hearing." So wrote the composer and critic Florent Schmidt in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music
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. 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 this one.
Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players, has this to say about Lalo's string quartet:
"Many fine things are to be found in Lalo's String Quartet published in 1855. That the quartet style is beyond reproach is surely in part due to the fact that Lalo spent several years as a violinist and violist in one of France's leading string quartets which specialized in the Vienna classics. The rhythm is of the theme found in the opening Allegro non troppo are quite unusual and make an impression. The following Adagio non troppo is a lovely Song Without Words. The main theme to the Scherzo, Allegro con fuoco, is clearly of Spanish origin. The trio section reminds one somewhat of that from Beethoven's Op.18 No.6. The finale has an appealing march like theme."
Originally published without rehearsal letters or numbers, we have added these to our reprint and hope that amateurs as well as professionals will find it of interest.