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To thank Julien Hamelle for publishing his Allegro appassionato for orchestra, op. 27, in 1885, Lalo gave him a piece entitled Guitare. It was also a way for him to resume the dialogue with his publisher, after a period of five years during which their relations had cooled: “I promise to write a small piece for violin and give it to you as soon as possible, for free, [...] to prove my desire to renew relations interrupted against my will,” he wrote to him on 1 June 1880. During the following summer, Lalo composed this Iberian-flavoured piece stylising the sound of the guitar. He dedicated it to its first performer, Martin Marsick. After an introduction in pizzicato chords, obviously alluding to the guitar, a theme rises on the solo violin. Its plaintive tone seems to contradict the accompanying dance rhythm. The interest of this piece lies precisely in this ambivalence: colourful but ultimately with little virtuosity, dancing but in a bittersweet atmosphere. Moreover, Lalo requires a “muted violin,” probably to dissuade the soloist from adopting too bright a tone. After a calmer section and the return of the pizzicato chords, the plaintive theme is stated again, but this time an octave lower, singing huskily. The soloist finally returns to the high register, but concludes on tiptoe. Lalo later undertook an orchestration of Guitare, completed after his death by Gabriel Pierné, who conducted it on 10 April 1920 at the head of the Orchestre Colonne. Noteworthy is the presence of a tambourine, which makes the Hispanic atmosphere even more explicit.


publication date : 25/09/23

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