Another slice of history this weekend – a legendary pianist playing a seldom-performed work. The celebrated and enthusiastically embraced cult figure Reine Gianoli performs in this broadcast Studio performance of the almost completely forgotten and seldom (if ever) played Piano concerto of Eduard Lalo. Accompanying Reine Gianoli is Pierre-Michel LeConte conducted the ORTF Philharmonic in this circa 1967 recording. No exact date of recording – if anyone has, please let me know.
Throughout her career Reine Gianoli appeared with leading orchestras and such conductors as Paul Paray, Felix Weingartner, George Enescu, Hermann Scherchen, Louis Auriacombe, Milan Horvat, and Georges Sebastian, and in recitals with Pablo Casals, Pierre Fournier, George Enescu, and Edwin Fischer. She was featured several times in performances at the Strasbourg and Lucerne Festivals.
In 1947 Reine Gianoli was appointed professor of piano at the École Normale de Musique in Paris.
Reine Gianoli made numerous recordings for the Westminster, BAM and Ades labels. Although Reine Gianoli is not a “household name” among pianists like Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein, she has a very active and ever-growing cult following who look forward to any new releases of her hard-to-find recordings. Between 1947 and 1955 she recorded Mozart’s 17 piano sonatas live. These works are cornerstones of the keyboard literature. Often deceptively simple to play (the sonata in C, K.545 is affectionately known to students as “the beginner’s sonata”), they are full of poetry, humor, and drama. She thankfully avoids the trap of treating these works like fragile china, as was once the tradition; she plays them for their full red-blooded qualities. Gianoli died in 1979 and her reputation has been growing ever since.
And a nice description of the Lalo Piano Concerto via Hector Bellman at AllMuisc:
Lalo’s only piano concerto was written in 1888. One of the most beautiful works in its genre in the nineteenth century, it has fallen into almost complete neglect probably because the piano part, albeit difficult, was not written with the purpose of letting the pianist show off–there is not even a cadenza for the soloist. The concerto comprises three movements. In the slow introduction, Lento, the orchestra opens very quietly and then gives way to the pensive entrance of the piano. A somber atmosphere precedes a theme that becomes a recurring motto for the work. The subdued dialogue of orchestra and piano continues to introduce the main themes, blooming into a wonderful passage. A succession of piano arpeggios leads to the Allegro, which remains in major mode throughout. This is in regular sonata form with a noble chorale-like first subject and a second subject of similar character. The piano has several bravura passages, particularly before the very conclusive coda. The second movement, Lento, is also in major mode. A slow and enchanting berceuse of happy atmosphere, it is based on a simple, obstinate rhythm formed from two alternating notes. The second theme is based on material from the first movement. The finale, Allegro, opens in minor, resembling a playful toccata. After the reappearance of the theme already heard in the first two movements, the piano brings a new and lyrical theme. After a reprise of opening theme, another relaxed passage presages the conclusion. Perhaps what has been needed to interest keyboard virtuosi was a fiery bravura passage near the ending, but Lalo did not see fit to provide one. The work closes with a last repetition of the opening theme, followed by a sunny coda in major mode.
Now all you have to do is hit the Play button, relax and enjoy