Preview: ‘Le Salon de Musiques’ presents chamber music by Widor and Caplet, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Nov 11, 2012 (Highly Recommended)
At its most quintessentially French, Le Salon de Musiques pairs two rarities from late-19th-century Paris in what promises to be an afternoon of charming salon music. On the program are Charles-Marie Widor’s Suite for Flute and Piano, Op. 34, and André Caplet’s Quintet for Piano and Winds. Both pieces are representative of Le Salon’s theme this season of reviving beautiful Romantic and Neo-Romantic works that have fallen into obscurity. Per usual, the event takes place on the fifth floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in an intimate setting that brings performers and audience together after concerts for conversation, champagne and gourmet food.
Why It’s Highly Recommended: The concert features the American premiere of André Caplet’s Quintet for Piano and Winds. The score of theQuintet was lost twice and only recently has it been published, almost a hundred years after it was first performed by the Société moderne d’instruments à vent in 1899, when Caplet was just 20. A prodigy, Caplet demonstrated exceptional skill while studying at the Paris Conservatory and won the coveted Prix de Rome in 1901, beating out Ravel. However, despite writing music of refined craftmanship and developing an increasingly original compositional voice, he is now mostly remembered for his orchestrations of Debussy’s music, such as Children’s Corner and Clair de lune from the Suite bergamasque. It is unfortunately rare to hear Caplet’s own beautifully crafted compositions performed.
Except for his contributions to the organ repertoire, Charles-Marie Widor’s compositional output is also largely overlooked. His legacy as a composer is secure, thanks to his magnificent organ music, but Widor also wrote many works for voice and other instruments, including: over 70 mélodies, a mass, four operas, a ballet, five symphonies, two piano concerti, and a considerable amount of chamber music. He composed the Suite for Flute and Piano for Paul Taffanel, a colleague at the Paris Conservatory who founded the influential French school of flute playing and inspired many other composers to write music for flute with his expressive virtuosity. Accordingly, the Suite pushes the flutist to the limits with long, lyrical lines and literally breathtaking passagework.
The two works are both modeled after the Classical four-movement structure, but are lightweight in terms of content, in the vein of the salon music of the time. While they may not contain great intellectual or emotional depth, they are full of charm, elegance, and a refined sense of poise. They deserve a wider audience.
What to Look Out For: Widor’s Suite is mostly in a conservative Romantic idiom, but listen for the shades of modal harmony that add nuance to otherwise expected harmonic and melodic material. Caplet’s Quintet takes full advantage of the instrumental colors available, as expected from a composer who would be remembered for his skill in orchestration. Listen for how differences in timbre between the instruments are at times used to help delineate melodic lines and at other times combined in different ways to add color.
–Yu Tang, L.A. Opening Nights
Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 at 4PM