The Strad Issue: January 2014
Description: A valuable survey of Lalo’s work for piano and strings
Musicians: Dorian Lamotte, Agnès Reverdy (violin) Marc Desmons (viola) Florent Audibert (cello) François Dumont (piano)
Composer: Lalo

This disc interlaces serious works such as the experimental two-movement Piano Quintet of 1862–3 (reconstructed by Dorian Lamotte and here receiving a first recording) with lighter ‘character’ pieces, including ‘Guitare’ and the virtuosic ‘Arlequin’. In the process it displays Lalo’s eclecticism, from the Germanic conventionality of the Piano Trio of 1849–50, to the recreational whimsy of the artfully naive ‘Chanson villageoise’.

Delivered by an impressive line-up of French-trained musicians, including the Debussy Quartet’s Dorian Lamotte and Marc Desmons, winner of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition in 1995, this disc is a persuasive one. The fuller textures of the Trio and Quintet reveal well-matched sonorities that are styled sensitively within the parameters of conventional modern performing practices. The finale of the Trio, for example, is suitably ardent, while the second movement  of the Quintet displays a great deal of sensitivity and colour in this truly heartfelt music.

How one relates to the closely miked sound and the prevalence, in Lamotte’s solo playing, of a tone that is by turns intense and diffuse (notwithstanding a sensuous and beguiling ‘Guitare’ performance – some of the best playing on this disc) is a matter of personal taste. Overall this compilation is both fascinating and innovative.

David Milsom