By Don Heckman
There’s nothing quite like one of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s a la carte concerts. Presented in the elegant settings of the Los Angeles homes of diplomats from countries around the world, they feature LACO’s brilliant players in up-close and personal performances of irresistibly appealing chamber music programs.
Last Saturday night, Iran a la carte showcased the LACO string quartet of violinists Margaret Batjer and Tereza Stanislav, violist Roland Kato and cellist Andrew Shulman performing works by Mozart, Haydn and Iranian composer Reza Vali. Hosted by Ahmad and Haleh Gramian in their lovely home in the hills of Brentwood, the performance celebrated the 45th anniversary of LACO’s inaugural concert.
The evening began with cocktails and the first of three buffet courses of Persian cuisine. The music portion of the program followed, presented in the intimate setting of the Gramians’ stylish living room.
And the selections added another intriguing aspect to the performance. Chosen by LACO in honor of the first declaration of human rights – the 2500 year old Cyrus Cylinder on view at the Getty Villa in October – the “program of Mozart and others is dedicated to freedom, tolerance and justice.”
While Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik only reaches back to the 18th century, its deeply memorable melodies and dynamic rhythms call up a more recent expression of individual creativity.
So, too, for the second work on the program, Haydn’s Emperor String Quartet in C Major, with its captivating emphasis upon the fascinating interplay of individual voices within the ensemble.
Finally, the program ended with Folk Songs, a new work for string quartet by Iranian composer Vali, adding yet another broad slant of free flying imagination underscoring the theme of “freedom, tolerance and justice.”
Full credit goes to the LACO string players for bringing this appealing program to life. Whether it was the familiarity of the Mozart and Haydn classics or the far more unusual semi-tonal sounds of the Vali quartet, it was a sequence of music to remember.
And each of the LACO quartet members made their own superbly articulated contributions, with special notice going to cellist Shulman for his brilliant soloing within the semi-tonal, melismatic demands of the Vali quartet piece.
This engaging collection of music completed, the Iran a la carte program ended with a climactic buffet of exquisite Persian food. Like the other programs in the a la carte schedule, it was the perfect blend of music, culture and cuisine.
The next LACO program in the series – France a la carte– takes place on Thursday, Oct. 17. For more information about it, click HERE.
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Photos courtesy of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.