Le Salon Prepares for New Season


The air is turning crisp and the sunsets are becoming more dramatic, with great billowing purple grey clouds worthy of a Caspar David Friedrich landscape. Autumn, in all its gold and brown spangled foliage, has arrived in Los Angeles, a reminder to music lovers that the music season in the region is beginning to ramp up.

Over the next few days, audiences will have the opportunity to hear a panoply of musical offerings: glittering chamber music gems by a pair of now-forgotten composing brothers, spiky and soulful works composed in the depths of Stalinist Russia, and a visionary work in which suffering is transfigured into hard-won hope.

Le Salon de Musiques will continue its season on Sunday, Nov. 12 with a program that culminates with the formidable “Piano Quintet in E-flat, Op. 44” by Robert Schumann. But the real stars on the program are the pair of works by brothers Philipp and Xaver Scharwenka.

In their lifetimes the brothers were imposing figures on the Austro-German musical landscape. Both were highly respected and beloved composers and pedagogues, counting such distinguished musicians as Otto Klemperer, José Vianna da Mota and Oskar Fried as pupils. On top of that, younger brother Xaver was among the most famous pianists of his time.

“I cannot see how anyone could fail to be captivated,” the American pianist Raymond Lewenthal once remarked on this body of work.

On the Le Salon de Musiques program will be the “Piano Quintet in B minor, Op. 118” by Philipp and the “Serenade for Violin and Piano, Op. 70” by Xaver.

The concert is on Nov. 12 and begins at 4 p.m.in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. General admission tickets are $85; student tickets are $45. For more information, visit www.lesalondemusiques.com or call (310) 498-0257.

Then on Tuesday, Nov. 14 and Thusday, Nov. 16, Camerata Pacifica will be performing a program consisting of the “Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80” by Sergei Prokofiev and the “Quartet for the End of Time” by Olivier Messiaen. Both works emerged from one of the darkest periods in the 20th century. Prokofiev’s sonata was composed in fits and starts over nearly a decade, a span of time that encompassed the depths of the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, World War II and the return to the paranoia that Soviet society plunged into in the immediate postwar years. Indeed, the composer himself encouraged the evocation of dark imagery in the score, himself likening the eerie scalar passages for the violin in the outer movements as “wind passing through a graveyard.”

Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” which has enjoyed several performances in Southern California this year, was composed while the composer was a prisoner of war in the Nazi Stalag VIII-A. Inspired by a text from the Book of Revelation, Messiaen was aided in his composition by guards sympathetic to his talent, as well as fellow prisoners who would ultimately premiere the work on an icy cold evening in the rain on Jan. 5, 1941. Messiaen’s work has since stood the passing of time as a work that reveals the capacity of the human spirit to find solace, hope and even triumph amidst the most wretched conditions.

Performances will take place in San Marino at the Huntington Library on Nov. 14, followed by a repeat of the same program on Nov. 16 at Zipper Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, across the street from The Broad and Walt Disney Hall. Tickets are $56. For more information, visit www.cameratapacifica.org or call (805) 884-8410.

Finally on Wednesday, Nov. 15, violinist Jacqueline Suzuki and pianist Brendan White will perform a program of Handel, Prokofiev and Debussy as part of the Glendale Noon Concerts series. Suzuki is the series’ founder and curator, while White is making his third appearance this year as a guest.

The concert takes place at the Glendale City Church on 610 E. California Ave., corner of Isabel Street. As with all Glendale Noon Concerts, admission is free. To obtain more information, go to www.glendalenoonconcerts.blogspot.com.