Tone Poem Tuesday

 Charles Lucien Lambert (1828-1896) was born a free person of color in Louisiana. A talented pianist and composer, he moved as a young man to Paris where his son Lucien-Leon joined him in music-making, and their compositions were received warmly in Europe and later in Brazil, where they eventually settled.

As always seems to be the case, I can only find the very sketchiest of biographical details about these composers. This work is an overture, apparently: it’s called “Ouverture de Broceliande”. I didn’t even know if “Broceliande” is an opera, or an operetta, or a ballet…or if the piece if a concert overture with no theatrical work associated…until just a few minutes ago, when I turned up the fact that it’s actually an overture to a grand opera about the Arthurian legend.

The work itself is a compellingly melodic and exciting piece that certainly feels like the overture to something good to follow. It even felt to me rather like the opening credits to an old-school swashbuckler movie, like a spiritual ancestor of Korngold or Steiner. The sound isn’t heavily Wagnerian, though; Lambert’s overture sounds more like Chausson or Saint-Saens. I hope more of the music of both Lamberts comes to light.

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