Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21 (ground work)
In this masterclass, Professor Olivier Charlier is accompanied by student Victoria Pizzulo practicing the Symphonie espagnole by Édouard Lalo.
Professor Charlier mentions how difficult this piece is and how important it is to try correct bad habits before practicing it. It is easier to slowly progress right than correct something wronged. He proceeds to give Victoria a few exercises to help with three main points he dressed. The intonation, about which he gives a quick history of scales, the rythm and finally the tone, the quality of the sound. He mentions that passion must not be hidden and that it helps discover informations that feeds one's conception of a piece.
How to read a piece to discover what makes one sensible to it,
How to practice and control rubato,
How to discern the multiple dimensions within the piece,
How to avoid making movements sound mechanical.
Despite its name, Symphonie Espagnole, one of Edouard Lalo's best-known works, is actually a violin concerto. Composed in 1874, it coincides with several Spanish-influenced works by French composers, including Bizet's Carmen. It was written for and premiered by renowned Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate and incorporates many Spanish musical elements. The first movement, Allegro non troppo, opens with a brief yet dramatic orchestral introduction, before the violinist takes over with solo material. The material varies between a festive theme with 3+2 rhythms and a more lyrical melody. The second movement, Scherzando, evokes guitar music through a pizzicato accompaniment. Though primarily based on an energetic seguidilla dance rhythm, there is also a calmer middle section. The third movement, Intermezzo, was often omitted from early performances. It is a bit heavier in character, again utilizing 3+2 rhythms and flamenco melodies. In the fourth movement, Andante, the orchestra establishes a dark and stormy mood before introducing the more melancholic violin melody. The movement ends with the violin in its highest register in D major, preparing for the finale. The piece concludes with a lively Iberian-inspired Rondo that requires dazzling virtuosity.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this violin masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Olivier Charlier’s feedback and comments.
Revealed by the Long-Thibaud Foundation competition
Olivier Charlier counts undoubtedly among the great violinists. He conquers the public with the natural grace of pure playing, as an exceptionally dedicated and gifted performer whose virtuosity supremely serves the music.
Of a remarkable precocity, he enters the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10, and received illustrious support, as Nadia Boulanger, Yehudi Menuhin and Henryk Szeryng. Follows an impressive series of international rewards: Competition of Munich, Montreal, Sibelius, Jacques Thibaud, Indianapolis, Young Concert Artists (New york).
A brilliant career opens then and he is invited by the Parisian orchestras : Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonique de Radio France, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Orchestre de l'Opera...) as well as numerous international orchestras: London Philharmonic, Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, Tonnhalle of Zurich, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonic of Monte Carlo, RAI of Turin, BBC Orchestras, Pittsburgh Symphony, Orchestra of the Foundation Gulbenkian, National Orchestra of Belgium, Phiharmonique of Liège, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestras of Montreal, Sydney, Mexico, Caracas...) and with conductors : Serge Baudo, Alain Lombard, Theodor Gushlbauer, Sakari Oramo, Yann-Pascal Tortelier, Armin Jordan, Pascal Rophé, Emmanuel Krivine, Gianandrea Noseda, Karl-Anton Rickenbacker, Lawrence Foster, James Judd, Yutaka Sado, Gustavo Dudamel, Jerzy Semkow, Charles Dutoit, Hans Graf, Klaus Weise, Michel Plasson...
His discography testifies of a great eclecticism: Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Grieg, St Saëns, Lalo... Next to the concerto "L'arbre des songes" of Dutilleux that he recorded twice, we also find works of Pierné, Lili Boulanger, Vierne, Gerard Schurmann, John McEwen, Edward Gregson, Roberto Gerhard, Cyril Scott, among whom several world premieres. His most recent recording is dedicated to Mozart concertos, with Prague Chamber Orchestra. Vivaldi will be released this year.
The Marlboro Festival was for the young Olivier a revelation, and he is since a fervent chambrist. He participates regularly to numerous festivals: Prades, "Folles journées" of Nantes, La Roque d'Anthéron, Orangerie of Sceaux, Berlioz festival, Nice, Radio-France-Montpellier...
Édouard Lalo was born in Lille, France in 1823, and became a teacher and violinist in Paris after studying at the Conservatoire de Paris. He married singer Julie Besnier de Maligny in 1865 and started to compose operas. His most famous one was originally not well-received and heavily criticized. Following this episode in his career, he focused all his attention on the more fashionable chamber music.
The Symphonie Espagnole is his most famous oeuvre and is still part of the violin repertoire. It is a lively and bright piece that requires a lot of energy.
The composer had a son with wife Julie, who later became a music critic. Éduard Lalo would eventually receive the French Légion d’Honneur in 1873. He died in Paris at age 69 and left many unfinished works behind, as well as a great music legacy for violin and orchestra.
Photo credit: Pierre Petit