EDOUARD LALO: “Orchestral Works” = Le Roi D’Ys; Symphonie Espagnole; Concerto Russe — Orchestre de la Suisse Romande /Ernest Ansermet / Issac Stern/ Philadelphia Orch. / Ormandy/ Gérard Poulet /Czech Radio Sym./ Vladimer Válek — Praga Digitals stereo only SACD PRD/DSD 350094 (8/13/13) [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ***½:
The disc contains three representative works of composer Edouard Lalo, the great French composer (1823-1892). Known for his strong melodies and powerful orchestrations, his music has always been on my monthly playlist.
This SACD is a remaster from some classic performances from 1956 in Philadelphia with Ormandy, and a 1960 recording with Ansermet and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande from Geneva, and a 1994 recording from Prague.
The sound is variable from fair to very good, but the performances are excellent. The Symphony Espagnole is a bit constricted in frequency response, but soloist Isaac Stern and the Philadelphia Orchestra are a delight. The orchestral balance is excellent, and the stereo presents a nice soundstage for such an old recording.
The Le Roi D’ys Overture has the best sound on the disc, and once again the performance is excellent. It’s a vigorous composition with striking orchestral colors. It’s not the most popular of Lalo’s works, but that makes it all the more desirable on this disc.
The disc closes with the Concerto Russe, played by the Czech Radio Symphony conducted by Vladimir Valék. This is a strong, more modern sounding recording that is well balanced and has a very realistic placement of instruments from left to right with a hint of depth. The concerto takes some of its cues from Russian music, and in fact quotes two Russian folk melodies.
It’s nice to get these older but excellent performances remastered in SACD format. Lalo is always an interesting and rewarding listen, and you likely won’t get better performances of these works.
There is nothing in the liner notes about the provenance of these recording, and Ormandy and Ansermet recorded for different labels during their peak of popularity. But Praga Digitals has done an excellent job with these remasters, and these works sound as good as they are ever likely to sound.