Los Angeles Music Review: LE SALON DE MUSIQUES: Season 3, Concert 7 (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)

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by Tom Chaits on April 25, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles


Some people indulge in “culture” because they think that’s what they are supposed to do. They will slog their way through hours of highbrow offerings on PBS, slumber through a symphony or sit stupefied by a Shakespearian epic all because it makes them feel intellectually superior. The only problem is they aren’t having very much fun. Lacking any tangible understanding of whatever medium they are attempting to tackle prevents them from achieving true appreciation.

Such is true for classical music. It can be a befuddlement to many but it certainly does not need to be. Seeking to demystify the music, Angeles Concerts Artists Corporation sets out to enlighten, educate and entertain with a series of intimate encounters they call Le Salon de Musiques. These unique monthly chamber concerts Tom Chaits' Stage and Cinema LA Music review of Le Salon de Musiques at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.allow the attendees to be enveloped in an experience unlike any other in Los Angeles.

Artistic Directors Francois Chouchan and John Waltz greet the crowd and offer interesting insights into the pieces that will be performed that afternoon. Their comments paint the perfect picture of place and time and the historical context in which they were written. The pair is clearly enamored with the subject matter and their unbridled passion is contagious. What could be a boring lecture becomes an enthralling and informative chat. After setting the stage for what is about to come, the musicians offer their own comments on the pieces and it’s off to the races.

On the afternoon I attended, the featured artists were cellist Andrew Shulman and pianist Steven Vanhauwaert. Suffice it to say this is not the first day at the fair for these guys. They are both extremely accomplished musicians who play with an impressive clarity and expertise that is truly amazing. To witness the art of such renowned maestros up close and personal is a reward unto itself.

The first piece was the U.S.A. premiere of the seldom performed Sonata n.2 in C minor op 99 for Cello and Piano by Camillo Schumann. It was at once sweeping and lyrical, playful and brooding and a total mystery that it isn’t performed more often. It was an extended selection which ran nearly an hour after which there was a brief intermission (generally the concerts run a total of one hour). After the brief break, the dynamic duo performed Frederick Delius’ playful and concise Romance for Cello Tom Chaits' Stage and Cinema LA Music review of Le Salon de Musiques at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.and Piano followed by one of the few sonatas written expressly for the cello – Cello Sonata op 65 in G minor by Frederick Chopin – which Mr. Shulman performed brilliantly.

While it goes without saying that the compositions selected were extraordinary (which is to be expected considering the expertise of the Artistic Directors) it was the performers that made the afternoon so memorable. It was their collective interpretation, subtle nuance and infusion of romance and whimsy that elevated the program from a concert to an event.

At the completion of the concert champagne glasses are filled (there’s water and ice tea for those who do not wish to indulge in the bubbly) and there is a question and answer period with the participants. The success and relevance of this section is, as is often the case with such endeavors, highly reliant on the quality of the inquiry. Anecdotal and factual responses to the questions are quite often twisted and inserted into the more benign queries making them far more revelatory and more importantly, interesting.

Tom Chaits' Stage and Cinema LA Music review of Le Salon de Musiques at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.You will be taken taken with the expansive views from the fifth floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion: From Dodger Stadium and the San Gabriels to the recently opened Grand Park cascading down the hill from The Music Center to City Hall. Wooden banquet chairs in the once popular golden faux-bamboo pattern are arranged in semi-circular rows around a floor level performance space just big enough for the piano and cello. The audience is in close proximity to one another, and the chairs are minimally padded; their rigidity will be a challenge to the comfort of even the most accomplished coccyx. In addition, since there is no rake to the floor and the performance area is not on risers, those seated in the back rows resign themselves to the fact that they will have no view of the musicians while they are playing. Fortunately no visual reinforcement is necessary for the enjoyment of the musical interludes.

Tom Chaits' Stage and Cinema LA Music review of Le Salon de Musiques at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.Following the Q&A, the group adjourns to the far end of the room for a light repast catered by Patina consisting of dainty finger sandwiches, scones, fruit, bite-sized desserts and, of course, more champagne. The audience is encouraged to mingle with the artists and fellow music lovers to share their thoughts and feelings about the afternoon.

If this all sounds a bit too highfaluting, hoity-toity and frou-frou than your comfort level will allow, fear not. While it is a very civilized outing it is never affected or stuffy and the concerts are easily accessible to all. It is in fact the universal appeal, calmingly beautiful setting, musical magic and diversity of the crowd that help to make the event so ultimately appealing.  I definitely give the overall experience “2 pinkies up.”

photos by Ying Huang Photography

Le Salon de Musiques:
CHOPIN / Cello Sonata op 65 in G minor
C. SCHUMANN / Cello Sonata In C Minor Op 99 (US Premiere)
DELIUS / Romance for Cello and Piano
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion – Fifth Floor
played April 14, 2013
for tickets and info on upcoming concerts,
call (310) 498-0257 or visit http://www.leSalondeMusiques.com

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alice Simpson June 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Why DID you have to give this secret away?~Alice


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