Modesty Blaze

When Movses Pogossian said his Dilijan Chamber Music Series was “modest,” he was being just that.

His remark came during pre-concert greetings on September 15th at Zipper Hall; what followed was a concert that was intense, impassioned, and nothing to be modest about.

Dilijan is devoted to promoting the work of Armenian composers in addition to standard works from the chamber music repertoire. It opened the concert, the first of its third season, with Alexander Arutiunian’s “Suite for Clarinet, Violin and Piano” (1992), a work of tremendous beauty that drew an inspired performance from Pogossian (pictured), Diligan’s artistic director and a violin instructor at UCLA.

It was followed by the world premiere of Vache Sharafyan’s “Quintetto quasi Concerto per Pianoforte e Archi.” Sharafyan, who lives in Armenia, played the piano.

The piece opened somberly before launching surprisingly into strong waltz time. It was a foreshadowing of what was to come, as the piece felt like a pastiche of musical ideas in search of unity, with Minimalist passages juxtaposed to flights of folk-inspired rhythms.

“The musical language combines elements of baroque, romantic, eastern and contemporary music,” wrote Sharafyan in the program notes, “which is the result of the specificity of my style: a kind of language on the edge of different traditions and times.”

At times the screeching string instruments sounded like cats sliding by their claws down a mountain of slate, and thundering dissonance at one point forced a mother to comfort her frightened daughter. Like many pieces of music that seem to have no direction, the work came to an abrupt and arbitrary end.

The concert closed with Franck’s powerful and erotic “Piano Quintet in F Minor” (1879). It was attacked with such vigor that cellist Peter Stumpf snapped a string halfway through the sexually charged final movement (Franck’s wife thought the music obscene and despised it, which doesn’t say much for their conjugal relations).

Stumpf returned a few minutes later with a new string, and the quintet picked up where it had left off. But as with any interrupted romantic encounter, it couldn’t achieve the same ecstasy.

Dilijan’s next event is Sunday, October 14 at 3 pm at Zipper Hall. On the program is Mansurian, Ravel and Mendelssohn. Reserve tickets here.

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