PAUL LACOMBE (1837–1927) : Rapsodie sur des airs du Pays d’Oc, Op. 128 (1906); 
 Suite for piano and orchestra, Op. 52 (1890); 

Concerto for horn and orchestra (ca. 1875), Edited by Martin Yates (2021); 
 Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 34 (1878–1881). 

World Premiere Recordings. Victor Sangiorgio, piano; 
Peter Francomb, French horn, BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Martin Yates.

Catalogue Number: 04Z001

Label: Dutton Epoch

Reference: CDLX7413

Format: CD

Price: $19.98

Description: After studies with his mother and a local teacher (François Teysseyre), Paul Lacombe turned to the young Georges Bizet (born a year after Lacombe) to seek advice on composition. Bizet agreed, and the two of them embarked on what amounted to a correspondence course on the art and craft of writing music. Lacombe soon started to make a name for himself in the early 1870s, particularly among the composers most associated with the Société nationale de musique such as Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Franck, and Lalo. While some of his early successes came with chamber music, Lacombe’s orchestral works demonstrate his gifts at their most ambitious, particularly in his three symphonies. The First Symphony had been awarded a prize by the Société des Compositeurs in April 1879, and its premiere was greeted with enthusiasm by Parisian critics. The Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris (18 May 1879) praised Lacombe’s “fine and lively talent,” commented on the “natural elegance” of the work, and Lacombe’s “effortless handling” of his instrumental forces. However, the same critic noted that Lacombe’s style still seemed to be in the process of developing. After finishing his First Symphony in early 1878, the Second Symphony, started a few months later, shows the emergence of a more individual musical language. It was started during the summer of 1878 at the composer’s home in Carcassonne, but he subsequently revised the work. Some of these revisions were made following suggestions by Massenet, to whom Lacombe had sent the manuscript for comments. The symphony was eventually completed to Lacombe’s satisfaction in 1881, and that year he submitted it, once again, to the competition run by the Société des Compositeurs. This time it didn’t win a prize: instead, it caused something of a controversy among the more conservative members of the jury, who were unable to make any sense of it. But one juror was much more enthusiastic, as Vincent d’Indy reported to Lacombe in a letter of 7 June 1881: ‘Père’ [César] Franck ... having read your symphony, found it extremely interesting. He undertook to perform it on the piano in front of this bunch of idiots who, after the first piece, said it was incomprehensible music and asked if it was worth hearing the rest. Père Franck held firm and played the other movements. Then everyone had their say: the jury declared (with one exception) that there was no reason to award the first prize. Franck alone voted for you, sincerely judging your work worthy of the prize in question.


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