Thursday, 11 December 2014
Troïka concert features Russian composers
A triple tour de force performance!
Reviewed by Nancy Snipper
On December 10th, concert history was made inside Montreal’s Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur with the brilliant performance of Trio Fibonacci. The works of three iconic Russian composers – Anton Arenski, Dmitri Chostakovitch and Sergueï Rachmaninov were presented.
The Russian term “troïka” – the concert title, refers to the erection of a three horse-statue that symbolized Russian greatness. Nowadays, it alludes to something mighty comprising a total of three parts, such as a triptych or the unification of three to make greatness.
Certainly, given last night’s performance, this notion was realized musically – brilliantly embodied by the three stellar musicians of Trio Fibonacci. They are: violinist, Julia-Anne Derome; cellist, Gabriel Prynn and pianist, Wonny Song. These outstanding artists gave jaw-dropping performances. Only the most gifted of musicians would dare tackle this all-Russian program that demanded unbridled passion, Herculean technical prowess and power, along with the an acute sense of emotional restraint and musical maturity to render the complex music an interpretive stand-out.
Brimming with beauty, pathos and expressive passion, compositional colours brought back distinct musical traditions from Russian as it say on the watershed of Stalin’s strong arm into the 20th-century. The music summoned up the country’s dances, songs and mystical passages resonating with the music of the Orthodox Church. But of course, the pieces exploded with profoundly intricate melodies and emotions that traveled the gamut of sweet love to painful loss and all the ranges in between. The program resolutely reflected all the complexities that marked the various personalities and events that influenced each composer.
There was barely a moment in the two-hour program that allowed any member of the Trio to rest. The compositions comprised attacking crescendos that abruptly dying into a moments of diminuendo and then back into twisting passages of deep musical nuances and dramatic flamboyance. This was a program whose works vividly wove that distinct Russian romantic vernacular that has endured and stirred us – no matter our own provenance. Opening the program was Arenski’s “Trio in D minor, Op. 32”. Violin and cello stood their ground both as soloists and as harmonic partners that often echoed each other’s melody line with richness framed within a myriad of piano romance. The trio’s expressiveness and timing beautifully merged; the effect was sublime. Marvellous tonal shifts were displayed in the playing, and interpretive variety was masterfully accomplished. From the opening perturbing mood of undulating piano notes in the Allegro Moderato to the light-hearted Scherzo, with its frolicking humour conveyed in plucking and bow bouncing on strings - we were delivered a potpourri of dazzling music.
Arenski was a prized prodigy student of Rimski-Korsakov. His three operas, choral compositions, a ballet, concerti and orchestra works brought him acclaim, making him a highly sought-after successful composer – so much so that his teacher became jealous of him. Arenski packed into his short life so many works, including those for piano – the instrument he played – that one can only admire the prodigious work ethic of this musical genius whose life was cut short far too early; he died at the age of 45.
Chostakovitch’s “Trio in C minor, Opus 8” offered dissonance and in contrast - incomparable sweetness. The macabre and the magnificent spun us into realms of ecstasy and deep sorrow. His music embodied his emotional torment and peaks of joy. When he was 11, he witnessed his friend being killed in the street by a gendarme of the Tsarist police. He lived through the unsuccessful revolution of 1905 and all the turbulence thereafter. He was utterly committed to compose music evocative of the Russian spirit.
Finally, Rachmaninov’s “Trio Élegiaque No 2, Opus 9” was owned by the pianist, Mr Song – particularly evident in the second movement of eight variations. Excruciating pain as heard in the high fast ascensions of violin and cello, and an endless passage of gentle piano note trilling on the Fazioli
showed great sensitivity and remarkable musicianship.
This concert was akin to a non-stop ride through the Russian countryside where huge mountains, valleys, rivers and plains filled with floral splendour translated musically – where suffering and joy magnified the images which elicited emotions of great magnitude. The technical stamina and virtuoso playing of Trio Fibonacci is second to none; yet never – not for a second – was any moment of the musical intent set aside in order to get the all notes out. What an astounding concert!!
On February 25th the Trio will give their next concert once again in the venue of la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur (100 Sherbrooke Street West). It’s an ideal noble place for intimate chamber music to reach your soul and stir your senses.
Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven and Onslow are on the program.
For more information, call (438) 380-8627. Trio Fibonacci’s website is: www.triofibonacci.com