Mastery and Elegance

By Mark Homsany

We chose a theme that relates to current events: migrants.” That is how Julie-Anne Derome began the “Artistes Migrateurs” concert on March 4th at Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The Trio Fibonacci violinist explained that the pieces she would present that night were written by composers who had to leave their home country.

Derome was sitting next to cellist Gabriel Prynn but the usual pianist, Wonny Song, was absent because he was on paternity leave. He was replaced with Michel-Alexandre Broekaert.

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Photo credit: Flo Pelz

The Trio Fibonacci liked interacting with the audience; they would sometimes talk to them in French, other times in English. Derome told a few anecdotes to present Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Trio No. 3:

Each part of this piece reminds me of a part of Villa-Lobos’s life. He was a self-confident man. He went to the Amazon forest to study indigenous music and was kidnapped by cannibals.”

Indeed, this Villa-Lobos trio was made of different parts. The violin and cello harmonies were perfect. Gabriel Prynn’s powerful, furious yet controlled vibrato added to the elegance of the string parts. Right from the first piece, Broekaert showed he was Song’s ideal replacement. His long legato phrases flowed sometimes with the gentleness of a river, other times with the power of a waterfall.

The Trio Fibonacci continued with Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Instead of playing the original version for voice and piano, they played an arrangement for violin and cello. Derome’s violin stood out thanks to her expression the emotional power of neo-romanticism, the movement Rachmaninoff was part of. “By listening to this piece, you can really feel a sense of sadness and loss,” said Prynn after playing the piece.

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Photo credit: Flo Pelz

 

Prynn then presented Trio No. 2 by Alexandre Tansman. He told how Tansman, thanks to his friendship with Charlie Chaplin, was able to immigrate to the United States. This Polish Jewish composer fled his native Poland to seek refuge in France before settling in the United States. His music, which was nominated for an Oscar in 1946, is a reflection of his migration. A hint of klezmer could indeed be heard in this trio.

Before the intermission, the Trio Fibonacci presented Trio No. 3 Dumky by Antonin Dvorak. Derome described this piece as being “steeped in Czech folklore.” The beginning of the piece is long and slow, but the rest is full of cheerful and intense moments. As a response to this energetic performance, the crowd rose out of their seats and gave the Trio Fibonacci a standing ovation which encouraged the musicians to come back on stage.

After the intermission, Derome said with a puzzled tone:

When I was a student, I had a guitarist friend who played some Manuel Ponce pieces. I wondered, ‘Who was this obscure composer? If he’s not well known, then he must be bad.’ We will show you tonight that this statement isn’t true.”

It was then Gabriel Prynn’s turn to present Manuel Ponce’s Trio Romantico. He described this piece as being “as dramatic and muscular as a Beethoven piece.” He went on: “Before letting you go into the cold, Canadian night, we hope to make you feel the warmth of Mexico.” All the things the members of the trio said were true. Broekaert showed the piece’s power with his flashy and thunderous playing. The chemistry between the three musicians was evident through call and responses phrases they traded.

After the concert, the Trio Fibonacci received an even greater ovation than at the intermission. The intensity and virtuosity of the trio served the emotions the pieces conveyed. In short, this concert can be summed up by two words: pure passion.

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Photo credit: Flo Pelz
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