If you like chamber music by the world’s greatest composers, both known and unknown, performed by renowned musicians in an intimate setting, then Le Salon de Musiques is for you. The brainchild of French-American pianist Francois Chouchan, Le Salon de Musiques has been hosting chamber music salons on the fifth floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the past six years.
On May 15, the next to the last concert of the sixth season featured three works, the U.S. premiere of the Piano Trio No. 2 “Caprice” in B flat minor, Op. 39 by Paul Juon and two works by Maurice Ravel, the Sonate “Posthume” for cello and piano and the Piano Trio in A minor. The works were performed exquisitely by violinist Erik Arvinder, cellist Trevor Handy and pianist Adam Neiman.
In recent years, Chouchan has made it his mission to perform works by obscure composers, noting that their obscurity has been due to factors other than the quality of their music. The buried treasure he unearthed for this month’s concert was the ravishing trio by Juon.
Juon was born in Moscow to Swiss (German) parents, but who attended a German school in Moscow and then in Berlin where he stayed and taught. His trio has hints of Arensky and Rachmaninoff, but is distinctive. The musical landscape was wide, ranging from the dramatic to the whimsical. Even though the piece was new to everyone in attendance, including the performers, it was very accessible and had its share of immediately hummable melodies. The score was very demanding for all three instruments, especially the piano, and all three performers were more than up to the task, playing it with verve and emotion.
The Ravel Sonate is a very early work by the composer, but still distinctively Ravel. Oddly, it wasn’t published until 1975. It is a light and airy work with hints of later music by Ravel, and both Handy and Neiman allowed it to breathe and float as if on a cloud.
The Ravel Piano Trio is a minor masterpiece that is very economical in the scoring, especially compared to the Juon. Ravel had been working for some time on the Trio when WWI broke out, which spurred him to finish the Trio much faster than he had planned. The urgency to finish can be heard in the Trio, especially in the third and fourth movements. The slow movement’s passacaglia is almost a lament. The musicians really let themselves go, getting inside Ravel’s head and heart, as if they were possessed by Ravel at the time he urgently completed the piece. In fact, they played almost as one performer. It was a truly revelatory performance.
—Henry Schlinger, Culture Spot LA
The next, and last, performance of the season, with music by Mendelssohn and Shumann, is June 12. For more information, visit http://www.lesalondemusiques.com.