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October 6, 2011
I frequently feel the urge to write you to let you know how moving and intelligent your programming at Dilijan Chamber Music consistently is. I especially want to reiterate that in light of your late September concert featuring, in addition, some of the most spiritual music, both ancient and contemporary, that I have heard on any program in Los Angeles. The playing of the Brahms Sextet was inspired, radiant, and evocative of empyrean vistas, but the works on the first half left me at intermission thinking, "Open my mouth, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praises." Getting to that point was masterfully planned, from the Dufay hymns arranged for violins, to the unfairly unknown Bruckner Adagio and with what should prove Vache Sharafyan's masterwork, the very moving setting of part of Psalm 51 for tenor and string quartet. The painful, querying, pleading and searching quality with which he began ("Have Mercy on me") led to, at the point of my quote above, to pianissimo major chords in the strings, as if the prayer had become a breath being taken or a heartbeat in anticipation of further prayer.
It was inspired to allow the Solo Deo Gloria foundation to help in the creation of Sharafyan's work. Their reputation of having commissioned important works like Christopher Rouse's Requiem (which we got to hear at Disney Hall a couple years ago), Paul Schoenfield's "D'vorah," Gil Shohat's "Bethsheba Songs," and so many other works that have not yet made it to Los Angeles, seems like a gift to Los Angeles audiences. The honoring of the visitor from SDG was very generous and appropriate, since no later than the Rouse performance the name of SDG was been seen as a visionary, very selective organization, and SDG's honoring Dilijan and local performers with the premiere of Sharafyan's work is very much appreciated. Because the literature for string quartet and voice is growing, it's clear to me that Sharafyan's "Psalm 51" should hold a place of honor in that contemporary repertoire.
Once again, thanks for not only an intelligent program but a profoundly movingly played one.
All best wishes,