Le Salon de Musiques, one of Los Angeles’s best kept chamber music series, opened their exciting and expanded 4th season this past Sunday afternoon, Oct 6, 2013 at the 5th Floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, downtown Los Angeles. They presented a beautifully prepared program of two 19th century romantic works: Franz Schubert’s famous string quartet, “Death and the Maiden” and the west coast premiere of “Meditation” by of a relatively unknown Belgian composer, Guillaume Lekeu.
Le Salon de Musiques’ resident musicologist, Julius Reder Carlson, a dynamic scholar specializing in the music of early 19th century Germany, presented fascinating details about life in Vienna at the time when Franz Schubert lived, and later on during the time of Guillaume Lekeu. He also noted that Lekeu (who died very young, at 24 years old) wrote “Meditation” at the age of 17 years old – his first serious work to be presented for the Music Academy in Paris.
Special guest sponsor for this concert, the Belgian Ambassador, Rudi Veestraeten was also present, The Ambassador, speaking with charming eloquence, gave additional insight into the productive but short life of Guillaume Lekeu and expressed his wishes to continue to build musical bridges between the Belgian Consulate in Los Angeles, and the mission of Le Salon de Musiques.
Following these festive remarks, the program began. The musicians for the afternoon, each one an accomplished artist and a member of several prestigious musical organizations, were: Tereza Stanislav, violin, Jessica Guideri, violin, Rob Brophy, viola, and Ben Hong, cello. Performing as a string quartet for the first time, their dedicated preparation was evident in their precise and musically nuanced performances.
First performed was the shorter work, Lekeu’s “Meditation.” This romantic and beautiful work, while quite lovely, failed to make a significant impression during this performance. The ensemble played very carefully and correctly without enough dramatic thrust or vocal line so typical of romantic music.
Perhaps part of the problem lay in the dry acoustics in the hall, which dampened the effects of their extremely delicate and soft playing. It would be interesting to see if some minor acoustical changes could be introduced, such as adding temporary wooden flooring where the musicians play, that might better support the natural resonance of string instruments.
Following the “Meditation”, was Franz Schubert’s complex string quartet, “Death and the Maiden.” As in the Lekeu’s “Meditation”, what the ensemble lacked was a certain organic cohesion of performance, that seemed to elude them for most of the afternoon.
Here as well, the musician’s emphasis on striving for the subtlest and most subdued of tones and phrasing, hampered their interpretation of this passionate and romantic music. Their performance of Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden”, was rather inhibited and cramped in the first two movements, finally making that organic connection to the music and each others playing that was previously missing, as they let go, performing with full toned abandon in the Scherzo and final Presto movement.
At the exciting conclusion of Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” the appreciative audience members gave these dedicated musicians a much deserved, standing ovation.
Following the performance, a lively question and answer session with the musicians took place.This important feature is particularly satisfying for those in search of intellectual as well as musical sustenance. After being served French champagne during the “conversation” the audience was treated to a buffet of gourmet refreshments by Patina.
Le Salon de Musiques expanded 2013-2014 season, now includes 8 concerts, including guest vocalists, and several West Coast premiers of newly discovered romantic masterpieces.
To view the complete season of upcoming concerts, ticket prices and special package deals: www.lesalondemusiques.com
Ticket prices range from $39 (students) to $65 dollars and include champagne and gourmet refreshments from Patina. Season package deals are also available.
For ticket puchase call: (310) 498-0257. To purchase online: www.LeSalondeMusiques.com/Tickets.Asp
LOCATION: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion – 5th Floor
135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.