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Russian Repercussions

A. Borodin, A. Glazunov, N. Rinsky-Korsakov: “Les Vendredis” String Quartets, Excerpts A. Glazunov: Elegy for Piano and Cello, OP 17 D. Shostakovitch: Piano Quintet in C Minor, OP 57 Le Salon de Musiques, April 8th, Dorothy Chandler Pavillon —                                      News cycles at the moment are rife with tales of Russian influence, wealthy oligarchs and behind-the-scene businessmen with lavish country dachas. On April 8th, Le Salon de Musiques presented a concert whose background, although of similar themes, dealt with the world of classical music (circa 1890-1943)  rather than the current international … [Read more...]

Souvenirs: Lost and Found

C. Debussy, G. Faure, Z. Kodaly and C. Chaminade, Le Salon de Musique, April 2, 2017— Years ago, while employed in the television industry, we purchased thirty antiques for possible use in a production. These 18th and 19th century furniture pieces—huge armoires, elaborate partner desks, chifferobes, secretaires and vitrines—haunted a dark corner of a stage for months until they were returned to the seller, never used. But while they sat gathering dust, these former possessions of Europe's elite fascinated me. In time I thoroughly searched every nook, cranny and drawer looking for possible hidden compartments, hoping to find a lost bit of hidden history—a story by Oscar Wilde, a letter from Napoleon, a score by Mozart—tucked … [Read more...]

The Russian Evolution

S. Rachmaninoff, P.Tchaikovsky, A. Arensky, D.Shostakovich, S.Taneyev, Le Salon de Musiques January 8, 2017— Despite its often dark past, the "Russian Bear" has blessed our eyes and ears with great beauty, from the architecture of St. Petersburg palaces, onion domes on Orthodox churches, painted religious icons and the contents of the Hermitage Museum to Faberge's bejeweled Easter eggs and the enduring novels of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Pushkin. Following his 1837 death, it was Pushkin's tales that provided inspiration for a century of artists who created perhaps his country's greatest gift to the world--music. A partial list of notable composers who were born or writing in 19th century Russia includes Glinka, … [Read more...]

Romantic Respite

R.Strauss, X.Schrwenka, R.Schumann, Le Salon de Musiques November 6, 2016— One hour of daylight was taken from us on November 6th in the annual turning back of clocks.  Only two days later, the presidential election would rob almost exactly half the country of the candidate they hoped would win. Depending on one's political persuasion, it would be either the best or worst day in a long, long time. But on Sunday, the 6th, the outcome could only be guessed at, prayed for or feared. One thing, however, was certain: the entire populace, left or right or center, had definitely experienced more than enough pundit-pontificating, TV commercials, flyers in mailboxes, exhorting robocalls, tense arguments and an endless barrage … [Read more...]

The Art of Song

SCHUBERT & SCHUBERTIADES, Le Salon de Musiques, February 8, 2015  In only 16 years of actual composing, Franz Schubert created more than a thousand works of music. It's an astonishing feat and his output has continued to influence every generation of musicians that followed him. Yet, despite this amazing achievement, Schubert's life in his home town played out as a woeful tune, full of melancholy and misery. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and other composers enjoyed the patronage of aristocrats and royalty in their adopted city of Vienna. Schubert, who was born there in 1797, could only rely on the support of his friends; when money was scarce, they paid for his wine and gave him a few florins to buy tobacco for his pipe. His mother … [Read more...]

English Impressions

John Ireland, Frank Bridge and Howard Hanson, Le Salon de Musiques, October 12, 2014 — A jewel in the crown of Los Angeles culture has returned for its fifth season, Le Salon de Musiques - Masters Rediscovered, continues its series of chamber music concerts devoted primarily to late 19th and early 20th century compositions at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion's Fifth Floor. The opening recital, played on October 12th, carries on Le Salon's tradition of presenting obscure but always insightful treasures from the post-Romantic era. All of the pieces--two from British composers John Ireland and Frank Bridge, one by an American, Howard Hanson—deserve a wider audience and greater recognition. Ireland (1879-1962) and Bridge (1879-1941) were … [Read more...]

Russian Soul

Medtner, Rachmaninoff and Arensky, Le Salon de Musiques, February 9th 2014 — Moves Pogossian, Mona Golabek, John Walz, Edith Orloff The latest presentation from Le Salon de Musiques—the fifth in its season of nine chamber music concerts—took place on February 9th. The setting, overlooking downtown Los Angeles, was an intimate corner of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion’s fifth floor.  The program featured music by Russian composers—Sergei Rachmaninoff, Anton Arensky and Nikolai  Medtner—all born between 1861 and 1880 and each well-acquainted with the other two.  In his introduction, Le Salon’s artistic director Francois Chouchan said, “Tonight, when you listen to this music, I hope you will feel the Russian soul”. Chouchan clearly … [Read more...]

Two by Four

String Quartet #2 in G Minor, by Reinhold Gliere, String Quartet in G minor, opus 27, by Edvard Grieg - Le Salon de Musiques, December 8, 2013 — Francois Chouchan and John Walz, the artistic directors of  Le Salon de Musiques, gave Los Angeles music lovers an early Christmas present on December 8, 2013: the third chamber music concert of the pair’s fourth season on the top floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The late afternoon soiree presented two seldom-heard string quartets performed by four young, accomplished musicians. Standing ovations followed both rousing compositions. Each of the four musicians has an extensive resume as soloist, concertmaster, composer, member of other quartets and symphony orchestras or all of the … [Read more...]

Emotional Landscapes

Le Salon de Musique: Recital, Gustav Mahler and Johannes Brahms, May 19th, 2013  — The program notes to the final concert of Le Salon de Musique's 2012-2013 season promised a review of Austro-German traditionalism and Modernism, but in many ways it was also a sturm und drang affair. Mahler's single movement Piano Quartet in A minor is a piece about which little is known, but its composition within the tradition of the conservatory is more remarkable when we consider Mahler composed it before his 17th birthday. Brahms' lieder, often used as palate cleansers between two works of great magnitude, did so leading up to the emotionally charged Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor Op. 60, a development of some of Brahms' more complex melodic … [Read more...]

An Intimate Arrangement

Le Salon de Musiques: Recital, Camillo Schumann, Fredrick Delius, Frederic Chopin, April 14  Andrew Shulman - Cello, Steven Vanhauwaert - Piano — A great cultural treasure in Los Angeles is hidden in plain sight, high up on the Fifth Floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Attendees at a recent performance entered through large doors into an intimate partitioned area of the grand ballroom. A discreet sign read: Le Salon de Musiques. Inside, about 150 people greeted old friends and made new acquaintances. A grand piano, bench and a single chair were situated near the windows. Surrounding this corner was a half-circle of chairs for audience members, some of whom read glossy program notes describing the unique nature the ensuing recital. … [Read more...]