Los Angeles Music Review: LE SALON DE MUSIQUES – GLIÈRE & GRIEG (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)

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by Tony Frankel on December 24, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles


I’ve had ravishing experiences before with Le Salon de Musiques, the premium music outlet which presents sterling chamber music concerts, but the two String Quartets on December 8 offered the most transporting, pleasurable, awe-inspiring, invigorating, relaxing, emotional and meditative experience I have had all year. Founding artistic director François Chouchan had commented that Russian composer Reinhold Glière was once more popular than Tchaikovsky, and the offering of the Los Angeles premiere of Glière’s String Quartet No.2 in G minor (1905) validated that statement as more of a possibility. How is it that Glière never acheived the prestige of Prokofiev or Shostakovich? Is it that the composer was not as adventurous as his contemporaries? And how is it that this sumptuous, melodious and outright beautiful String Quartet is just now being introduced to L.A?

In lieu of descriptives, Glière’s astoundingly lovely piece (one of his four string quartets) was recorded by Le Salon, so you can see what I mean. Remember, this was taped with a tiny camera, so the sonority, timbre and resonance are nothing compared to hearing it live. The players, who are even prettier in person, are, left to right, Serena McKinney (violin I), Erik Arvinder (violin II), Rob Brophy (viola) and Eric Byers, cello.

The Glière was paired with Edvard Grieg’s better-known String Quartet in G minor. Competed in 1878, this is Grieg’s only mature String Quartet (he never finished a second begun several years later, and a third one has gone missing). There isn’t a huge amount of instrumental interchange; rather, especially as played by the aforementioned musicians, it is as if someone brilliantly reducted an orchestral score. McKinney, Arvinder, Brophy and Byers deserve to be recorded by a label (The MABB String Quartet, perhaps?): The tempo never dragged and the playing was expansive, crisp and bracing in equal measure.

Boellmann, Martinu and Poulenc Le Salon de Musiques POSTERNext in Le Salon’s series will be a special “Duo Recital” with co-Artistic Director John Walz on cello and Edith Orloff on piano. The performance on Jan. 12, 2014 will feature Leon Boellmann’s magical Sonata Op. 40 in A minor. Boellmann is a wonderful French composer who has inexplicably been put on the sidelines of the repertoire. You must trust Chouchan, who continually unearths rarely heard masterpieces. He says that the Boellmann’s beautiful, lyrical and emotional piece has a sonority reminiscent of Franck. Also on the program are Poulenc’s Sonata for Cello and Piano Op. 143 and Martinu’s Sonata for Cello and Piano No.1. As always, musicologist Julius Reder Carlson will expound on and contextualize the music prior to performance. After the concert, as you sip on French Champagne, an informal Q&A with the artists will occur, followed by a gourmet buffet dinner provided by Patina.


Le Salon de Musiques
GLIÈRE: String Quartet No.2 in G Minor Op. 20
GRIEG: String Quartet in G Minor Op. 27
played on December 8, 2013

coming up on Sunday January 12, 2014 at 4:00 PM
BOELLMANN: Sonata for Cello and Piano Op. 40 in A minor
POULENC: Sonata for Cello and Piano Op. 143
MARTINU: Sonata for Cello and Piano No.1 H 277
John WALZ (Cello), Edith ORLOFF (Piano)

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion – Fifth Floor
for tickets and info, call (310) 498-0257
or visit http://www.leSalondeMusiques.com

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