Édouard Lalo (1823–1892) Violoncello Concerto in D minor
Urtext edited by Peter Jost [vc,orch]
solo: vc – 18.104.22.168. – 22.214.171.124. – timp – str
The first definitive author's version – In Cooperation with G. Henle Verlag
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In the past years, French music has become a focal point of Breitkopf's orchestral library. With Édouard Lalo's popular violoncello concerto, these new editions of French music now bring publishers Breitkopf and G. Henle together once again in another example of their proven cooperation. Peter Jost, an expert on French music who established his claim to expertise through his Debussy, Franck and Saint-Saëns editions, ensures a flawless Urtext edition which is based for the first time on the autograph piano reduction. This piano-cello score shows traces of several layers of arrangements, the last two of which were obviously not taken into account in the first edition. The new edition thus offers a wealth of new, authentic readings.
"A carefully researched text with clear and spacious printing highlights this sympathetic collaboration of two esteemed publishing houses, Breitkopf & Härtel and Henle." (Mary Nemet, Strings)
|1. Prelude: Lento - Allegro maestoso|
|2. Intermezzo: Andantino con moto - Allegro - Presto|
|3. Introduction: Andante - Allegro Vivace|
Édouard Lalo (1823–1892) was active for many years as a violinist and violist in various orchestras and chamber-music ensembles. But it was not until the 1870s that he finally began to make a name for himself as composer as well. He first achieved success with his first Violin Concerto op. 20 (1873), which was soon followed by a second piece in this genre, the famous Symphonie espagnole (1874). His compositional breakthrough was substantially aided by the dedicatee of these two works, Pablo de Sarasate (1844–1908); likewise, the violoncello concerto was also closely connected from the very start to its designated soloist Adolphe Fischer (1847–1891), a native of Belgium and the work’s later dedicatee. Lalo himself seems to suggest this in a letter of 24 November 1877 to Sarasate: “If I haven’t written to you earlier, then it is because I have been swamped by work. The Conservatoire has asked me for the overture to Le Roi d’Ys, and I have had to abandon my concerto for its sake and make all the corrections that I had envisioned after the last performance and neglected since. [...] Once this was done, I resumed my work on the concerto and have just written the last note of the orchestration. If the copyist is ready, as he has promised me, the concerto will be played by Pasdeloup on the 9th. Fischer knows it by heart and plays it admirably.”1 The first performance actually did take place on 9 December 1877, in one of the Concerts populaires given at the so-called Cirque d’hiver in Paris under the direction of Jules Pasdeloup and with Fischer as the soloist. Fischer had studied with the Belgian cellist Adrien-François Servais between 1862 and 1866 and had been living in Paris since 1868. We know neither whether he provided the initial impulse for the composition of the concerto, nor exactly when Lalo began working on it. Since Lalo informed the composer Otto Goldschmidt (1829–1907) about his new concerto in a letter of 3 November 18772, it can be assumed that the work was already completed at that time. The basis for the subsequent orchestration must have been the earliest surviving source, the unfortunately undated autograph piano reduction. Lalo, who had studied composition with the cellist Pierre Baumann in Lille and was undoubtedly familiar with the rudiments of cello playing, had presumably made at least a partial sketch of the solo part beforehand, but nothing of this has survived. Aside from corrections made immediately after he had written the piano reduction, this pianocello score has three further layers of changes (see the “Revisionsbericht” for more detailed information), some of which are possibly due to suggestions made by Fischer. It is just as impossible to know if and to what extent the experiences gleaned during the first performances played a role in these changes, as it is to know whether corrections were also made in the score.
Since the Paris publisher Durand was very hesitant to publish the concerto despite the work’s success, Lalo gladly took up the offer of the Berlin publisher Bote & Bock,3 which had been brokered by Sarasate. It cannot be ascertained exactly when Lalo sent the printer’s material (which is now lost) to Berlin. Nevertheless, as we can see from a letter of 6 February 1878 (when the publication by Bote & Bock had already been negotiated) to Fischer, there was still time to made changes: “As to the alteration that you requested in the rhythm of the theme of the concerto, you may do it, I have nothing against it. However, I feel that it is pointless. Remember that in an Allegro in 12/8 time, there are 6 sixteenth notes per beat. Count 6 yourself while beating time and you will see that a sixteenth note is excessively rapid and brief. If the orchestra does not play this note briefly, it is its fault and not mine, and it is up to the conductor to give the precise indication of the value. But if you feel that a thirty-second note better suits my intention in the eyes of the musicians, then alter it thusly. I see no inconvenience.”4 The change described here was apparently not made, but there are other passages in the piano reduction that present a subsequent rhythmic modification which was possibly due to Fischer.
Since the autograph piano reduction bears no engraver’s markings whatsoever, it can be excluded as the printer’s master of the piano reduction that was presumably released in September 1878 (plate number 11623)5. A philological analysis also reveals that only a copy of the piano reduction was sent to Berlin, since the print does not take into account the final two layers of changes in Lalo’s piano reduction (see “Revisionsbericht”). However, since the autograph score is lost, it is not possible to draw any conclusions about the Stichvorlage used for the printing of the score (plate number 11977), which was printed together with the orchestral parts (plate number 11978) in December 1878 at the latest.6 Whether the lost autograph score or a copy of it served as the Stichvorlage remains a mystery. What is absolutely clear, however, is that the score and parts were derived from the same source. This source, like the Stichvorlage for the piano reduction and the inserted solo part, was probably lost when Bote & Bock’s archives were destroyed in the war in 1943.
The world premiere of the cello concerto on 9 December 1877 was so successful that the new piece was repeated one week later, on 16 December. Unfortunately, the orchestra was hampered by the lack of rehearsal time. In a letter to Sarasate dated 10 December 1877, Lalo reported: “In compliance with your amicable wish, I sent you a telegram yesterday evening to announce the concerto’s success, the best proof of which is the re-engagement of Fischer to play it again next Sunday. Fischer played it admirably but the orchestra did not leave me a moment’s rest during the entire performance. Just imagine, in the same concert Pasdeloup played Berlioz’s Roméo [et Juliette], which he had never conducted before. This difficult work thus took up almost all the rehearsal time, and my concerto was played without any serious study. You can imagine what this can lead to. There were no serious blunders, but a lack of precision and uneven rhythms; and everything was too loud. For the second performance, it will be given one sole runthrough at the cirque on Saturday morning, and you know what such final rehearsals are like: it won’t be any better.”7 In spite of these unfavorable circumstances, the concerto was soon performed abroad thanks to the commitment of the cellist Fischer. It was heard, for instance, in Vienna on 13 January 1878 under Hans Richter, and in Leipzig on 10 February 1878 under Carl Reinecke. It then soon found its way into the concert repertoire. The work’s popularity is confirmed by the many arrangements and editions made by reputable cellists, of which the one by Louis Fournier (Editions Durand, 1923) is particularly worthy of mention.
We wish to cordially thank the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris), the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and the Library of the Conservatoire royal de Liège for kindly putting the sources at our disposal. I wish to extend my special thanks to Peter François (Halle, Belgium), Philippe Gilson (Liège) and Fabian Kolb (Cologne) for their valuable information and help, as well as to the editorial staffs of the publishing houses Breitkopf & Härtel and G. Henle for the excellent collaboration.
Buchloe, Fall 2008
1) Édouard Lalo, Correspondance, compiled and rendered by Joël-Marie Fauquet, Paris, 1989 [= Correspondance], p. 117.
2) The exact wording is unknown, see Correspondance, p. 116.
3) The composer expressly stated his appreciation of this mediation, which led to a fruitful collaboration between Lalo and Bote & Bock (after the cello concerto, the publisher released the Romance-sérénade, the Fantaisie norvégienne for violin and orchestra, and other works), in a letter to Sarasate dated 31 December 1878, Correspondance, p. 127.
4) Correspondance, p. 120.
5) In the Neue Berliner Musikzeitung published by Bote & Bock, the piano reduction was announced in the category “Nova” in the issue of 26 September 1878 (Vol. 32, No. 39, p. 312).
6) See Bote & Bock’s announcement in the Musikalisches Wochenblatt of 6 December 1878 (Vol. 9, No. 50, p. 613).
7) Correspondance, p. 118.