Live Classical Music: Cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras in the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s “France A La Carte”

By Don Heckman

There’s always something special about the A La Carte events created by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  And last week’s France A La Carte was no exception.

The programs usually feature small chamber ensembles – usually from a duo to a quartet performing chamber music selections from the classical canon.  But for this event the instrumentation was down to a bare minimum: an appealing solo performance by guest artist French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras.

The third program in this season’s A La Carte series, the concert took place in the elegant, Beverly Hills official residence of the Honorable Axel Cruau, Consul General of France, and his wife, Mrs. Dourene Cruau.  Although the evening had the cool temperature of early Autumn, plenty of warmth was provided by cellist Queyrras’ superb solo artistry, combined with the deliciously rich selections in the dinner buffet and an equally tempting array of French wines and champagne.

Jean-Guihen Queyras
Jean-Guihen Queyras

One of the great pleasures of LACO’s A La Carte programs is the opportunity to hear world class classical artists performing chamber music in an up close and personal setting.  And the performance by cellist Queyras was an especially intimate musical encounter.  Seated in the living room of the Cruau mansion, with an audience of listeners, none more than fifteen feet away, Queyras performed a program of unaccompanied works for solo cello.

Any chance to hear one of the J.S Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello is a worthy occasion.  And especially so when it’s performed by a cellist with the sensitivity to musically embrace the lyrical phrases and captivating melodies of the classic Bach works.

Add to that Queyras’ compelling interpretation of Zoltan Kodaly’s Sonata for Solo Cello.  In contrast to the Bach pieces, the Kodaly work affords the cello soloist with the opportunity to display the instrument’s incomparable range of musical expressiveness, from technical virtuosity to rich lyricism.  And Queyras made the most of it.  Between works, he added his own charming commentary about each of the musical selections.

The entertaining evening finished with dinner at an outdoor table by the swimming pool  Call it another superb entry in LACO’s always memorable A La Carte series.

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s next A La Carte event – Germany A La Carte – takes place on Saturday, Nov. 2.  The performance features a quartet of LACO players in a program of music by J.S. Bach and his contemporaries.  For more information, click HERE.

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Photo by Faith Frenz from an iPhone.

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