Los Angeles Music Preview: TEARS OF JOY, TEARS OF SORROW (Le Salon de Musiques at the Chandler)

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by Tony Frankel on September 25, 2015

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles


The grand opening concert of Le Salon de Musique’s 2015/2016 arrives on Sunday, October 4, 2015, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Every time I visit, Le Salon proves itself to be the greatest chamber music outfit I have ever discovered. You get world-class players in an intimate setting offering masterful works (often from forgotten or neglected composers), astounding annotation from a musicologist, an informal Q&A, and a sumptuous high-tea buffet with French champagne from Patina.


But there’s more. In an age where high-tech communication and online mingling occur with ridiculous rapidity, I fear that we are losing the art of communication and socializing. Le Salon gives me the opportunity to remember what feeds my soul: Connection, intimacy, down-to-earth yet astronomically talented players, engaging conversation, gourmandizing, friendly patrons, and—most important—awareness of the indescribable beauty that mankind is capable of. It’s no accident that Le Salon occurs on Sundays, for it has surely become my church.

It’s also mind-boggling the amount of exquisite, jaw-droppingly gorgeous U.S. Premieres that French-American Pianist/Melodist and Artistic Director François Chouchan has offered in the past. Chouchan’s carefully selected programs have proved time and again that seldom-played music doesn’t mean it lacks brilliance or Composer-Philipp-Scharwenka.accessibility—and certainly not genius. This concert will be no exception. Heard for the first time in the U.S. will be Philipp Scharwenka’s String Quartet in D minor Op 117.

Philipp Scharwenka was the brother of Xaver Scharwenka, both German composers and music teachers. Xaver founded the Scharwenka-Conservatory in Berlin, which Philipp eventually took control of and in 1893 merged with the Piano School of Karl Klindworth to form the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory. Otto Klemperer was one of his pupils and Philipp, best known for his chamber works, which are dreamlike with moody inflections, was one of the first to realize the great talent of Gustav Mahler. Composed in 1910, when Scharwenka was around 63 years old, the four-movement String Quartet in D minor (also referred to as No. 1) contains a soul-stirring third movement (see below); titled “In memoriam, Andante tranquillo,” it is hardly funereal but more in the nature of romance.

Chouchan is also uncanny at choosing music which easily touches the soul. He gives some insight as to why he chose Franz Schubert for the other two works on the program. He uses descriptive words such as “romantic,” “spiritual,” and “sublime,” which certainly describe “Quartettsatz,” which is the first movement of a string quartet in C minor which Schubert never completed (no. 12, D 703), and the String Quartet in A minor D 804, Rosamunde.

But Chouchan goes on to say, “With the beauty of a child’s innocence, Schubert leads us into an emotional inner journey—an alley of light and darkness. With his magical modulations, the Wanderer guides us to explore the frontiers between Life and Death. He takes us to his mysterious world filled with hope, as well as loneliness, despair and resignation.” And what a journey you’ll have with the A-minor Quartet. Written in the same year as Death and the Maiden (1824), both quartets seem to be suffused with regret for the lost world of his youth, but the A minor is one of the most hauntingly melancholic pieces he ever wrote.

SchubertIt wasn’t always known that Schubert’s beguiling natural voice was also the result of serious study, hard work, vision and the kind of inner struggle associated with his Viennese contemporary, Beethoven. Even Robert Schumann, who understood the true depth of Schubert’s genius better than anyone else at the time, once described him as a “guileless child romping among giants.”

But then there is that natural gift-of-God brilliance. Chouchan adds, “Within a few notes, one can feel his genius talent, exquisite tenderness, and compassion—all coupled with his deep sensitivity and fragility.” It’s most fitting that this concert has been titled Tears of Joy, Tears of Sorrow, which will be introduced by Musicologist Kristi Brown-Montesano, author of The Women of Mozart’s Operas. The players, all of whom I have been privileged to see up close before, are Jessica Guideri (violin), Erik Arvinder (violin), Rob Brophy (viola),and co-Artistic Director John Walz (Cello).

Le Salon de Musiques
Season 6, Concert 1
Tears of Joy, Tears of Sorrow
Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 4
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
135 North Grand Ave, 5th Floor
for tickets and info, call (310) 498-0257 or visit Le Salon de Musiques

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