Los Angeles Music Preview: PACIFIC TRIO (Le Salon de Musiques at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)

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by Tony Frankel on December 27, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles


Le Salon de Musiques’ fifth season—the “Masters Rediscovered” series—continues in the new year with the Pacific Trio. Having just returned from performances in Europe and Russia, Edith Orloff (piano), John Walz (cello), and Roger Wilkie (violin) will play two Léon Boëllmann U.S. premieres and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Piano Trio n. 2 in E minor, Op 92. These selections from the inspired artistic and technological period known as La Belle Époque elucidate Le Salon’s mission to expose L.A. audiences to neglected masterpieces executed by sterling artists in an intimate setting, the way they were intended to be heard.

Un-Salon-à-la-Belle-EpoqueDespite being the composer of more than 300 works in all genres, Saint-Saëns today is known largely for piano concertos, his third symphony (Organ), and the ubiquitous Carnival of the Animals (a work its composer did his best to suppress). However, his chamber music is rarely performed—and his two high-quality piano trios, composed in 1863 and 1892, stand at the apogee of a genre the composer held dear.

Saint-Saëns’s first trio was inspired by the terrain and folk music of the French Pyrenees, it has a breezy simplicity, its open lyricism offering so much more than 1860s opera-mad France could ever have realized. The second trio, which scholars have called the greatest French piano trio of the 19th century, is a more serious and subtle work; the intervening decades had seen Saint-Saëns retreat from a world in PACIFIC TRIOwhich he felt increasingly marginalized. From self-imposed exile in Algeria he sent this work to the world as a postcard firmly reiterating his belief in the values of traditional form and melody.

“I am working quietly away at a trio which I hope will drive to despair all those unlucky enough to hear it. I shall need the whole summer to perpetrate this atrocity; one must have a little fun somehow.” So wrote Saint-Saëns to a close friend in the spring of 1892 about the second trio. The truth was that Saint-Saëns worked long and hard on this work, putting into it—as one critic noted—all of his accumulated experience and wisdom. As with most selections La Salon has offered, you will find it tough to comprehend why it is not a staple in the repertoire.


Parisian organist Léon Boëllmann, who died at only 35, was introduced to me by Orloff and Walz, when they presented at Le Salon his rarely heard Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 40. It was a revelation (below is their performance of Movements II & III). On January 11, 2015, they will offer the U.S. premiere of his Two Pieces for Cello & Piano Op 31, composed in 1896, one year before his tragically early death, presumably from tuberculosis.

Boëllmann’s Piano Trio in G Major, Op. 19, one of his largest and most significant compositions, has a character which is unmistakably French in the Franckian manner: solid of technique, harmonically bold, rhythmically vital, and imaginatively scored yet spontaneously tuneful and naturally fresh. Composed circa Boellman Piano Trio in G major Op. 19 sheet music1895, it is has taken almost 120 years for this gorgeous Trio to make its U.S. Premiere.

Along with the works, Musicologist Julian Reder Carlson, always erudite but never pedantic, begins your adventure with anecdotes and wisdoms behind the works’ creation. After the program, French champagne is served during a Q&A with the artists. This is followed by a gourmet sandwiches-and-dessert buffet supplied by Patina. This is why Le Salon de Musiques is the best chamber music outfit in Los Angeles.

Le Salon de Musiques
Season 5, Concert 4
Sunday January 11, 2015, at 4:00
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 5th Floor
135 N. Grand Avenue
Pacific Trio:
Roger WILKIE (Violin)
John WALZ (Cello)
Edith ORLOFF (Piano)
C.SAINT-SAENS: Piano Trio n. 2 in E minor Op 92
L.BOËLLMANN: Two Pieces for Cello & Piano Op 31 (U.S. Premiere)
L.BOËLLMANN: Piano Trio in G Major Op 19 (U.S. Premiere)
for tickets, call 310.498-0257 or call www.LeSalondeMusiques.com

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Francia L Baily January 18, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Today, I heard your concert that included C.SAINT-SAENS: Piano Trio n. 2 in E minor Op 92 at the Unitarian Church in Palos Verdes. We had to leave right after the concert so I did not have a chance to buy your CD. Can you tell me how I can purchase it? The concert was truly inspiring.


Tony Frankel January 19, 2015 at 8:45 am

You can visit their site at PacificTrio.com, Francia.


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