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Music review: Le Salon de Musiques at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

February 27, 2012 |  3:36 pm

Le Salon de Musiques

One of the many pleasures of the monthly Sunday afternoon chamber music series Le Salon de Musiques is its intimacy. The Salon venue on the fifth floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion feels as if the listener is  in a carpeted living room with large windows overlooking the city and hills. This special ambience, which includes a brief introduction by a musicologist, Champagne-fueled conversation between audience and performers, and a buffet, allows listeners to get closer to the music and musicians.

For example, after harpist Marcia Dickstein’s lovely, rippling account of Arnold Bax’s rarely performed “Elegiac Trio” for flute, viola and harp, several people said it was the first time they had ever seen and heard the instrument up close.

Dickstein, a Bax scholar, has recorded most of the British composer’s music for harp. His 1916 trio, which shows the Impressionist influence of Ravel, found sympathetic interpreters in Dickstein, flutist Pamela Vliek Martchev and violist Victoria Miskolczy. The trio’s richly harmonic language was perfectly placed between two more substantial French neighbors: Poulenc’s Flute Sonata with piano, composed for Jean-Pierre Rampal in 1957, and Fauré’s late-Romantic Piano Quartet No. 1 in C-minor (Op. 15).

Flutist Martchev offered a technically stirring, lyrical rendition of the Poulenc, superbly accompanied by pianist Steven Vanhauwaert’s delicately calibrated touch. You could almost feel her breath transformed into music.

For the Fauré, John Walz, principal cellist of the L.A. Opera orchestra, got permission to take off from the second half of the matinee performance of “Simon Boccanegra” to fill out a quartet (with Vanhauwaert, Miskolczy and violinist Tereza Stanislav) upstairs. Together they generated an alternately poetic and earthy intensity, never losing the work’s propulsive rhythmic impetus. The pianist’s clarity in playing softly (the piano lid remained open) blended sensitively into the opulent fabric created by his partners.

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--Rick Schultz

Photo: The February gathering of  Le Salon de Musiques at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Credit: Henry Lim

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