By Gabriel Prynn, cellist
The stomping of boots and the cooing of doves! For this concert, we will present works by composers who resonated with the troubles of their time – or on the contrary, were pampered thanks to their fame. Thus, Dmitri Shostakovich’s haunting Trio No.2 makes us feel the tragedy of a dark period in history, through deeply moving music that marked his century. And in total contrast, we will perform the luminous trio in C major of a calm, joyful Haydn, sharing lightness and sparkling melody. This Tolstoyesque program will be completed by the premières of War and Peace by Quebecois composer Simon Bertrand and Fibonacci Numbers 2 by Alain Perron, bringing a contemporary flavour to this concert, while inviting us to reflect on our own era.
Fibonacci numbers by Alain Perron
The history of our collaborations with Quebecois composer Alain Perron dates right back to the first season of the Trio Fibonacci in 1999, when each member of the group performed as soloists with Le Nouvel Ensemble à Cordes de Québec (NEC), of which Alain is both the founder and the conductor. Born in Cap-Santé, near Quebec City, Alain received two prestigious grants in the 1990’s which allowed him to study with the renowned composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland, where he received his doctorate in 1996. He has taught Composition at the University of Regina since July 2002, where he is also the Music Director of the University Orchestra, the Composition New Music Ensemble and the U of R New Music Ensemble.
In March 2012, Julie-Anne (violinist in the Trio Fibonacci) and myself travelled to Alain’s university in Regina to be artists-in-residence at his new music festival »Living Music under Living Skies”. We performed works by the festival’s composer-in-residence Denis Gougeon on that occasion, but our world première of the new composition Fibonacci Numbers 1 for violin and cello by Alain Perron was the centerpiece of our residency. When Alain recently proposed to write a new, extended version of this piece for piano trio built entirely on the Fibonacci series as a project for his sabbatical year, we jumped at the chance. We were clearly delighted to continue what had already proven to be a very fruitful and mutually enriching artistic collaboration.
From the most ancient times, certain mathematical proportions were seen to explain and project beauty and perfection. The temples of ancient Greece for instance, were often built according to the principal of the Golden mean – the division of a line so that the relationship of the whole to the larger part is proportionally the same as the larger part to the smaller part (a proportion that is considered to be particularly pleasing to the eye).
In music too, until the late middle ages, the Pythagorean tuning system suited composers well because it was directly linked to the notion of “perfect” ratios (and thus Plato’s Harmony of the Spheres), which when transferred to the strings of the lyre produced the intervals of the perfect fourth, perfect fifth, octave and double octave.
What then could be better, in a concert whose theme is War and Peace, than to include a new work which has been composed following the Fibonacci sequence, a series of numbers which seems to bring order to the chaos of the world?
I asked Alain to tell us more about his new piano trio:
“In the past, I have composed several works featuring violin, cello or piano, such as Relevés no.7 for string quartet, Séquences voilées for string quartet and orchestra, Mouvance for string quartet and string orchestra, and several works for solo instrument and piano. I was delighted to be granted the opportunity to compose a new work for the well-known Trio Fibonacci. Having written many pieces for these instruments individually, this will actually be my first composition for this particular classical formation (violin, cello and piano).
Since the name Fibonacci refers to a sequence based on numbers (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…), this twelve-minute work also uses numbers and the equivalent process of recurring relations. Furthermore, this work is divided into nine sections using a mirror shape, overlaid by a golden number structure (2/3 – 1/3). Section 5 of the piece is the climax of the work, and the other sections are linked in the following fashion: 1-9, 2-8, 3-7, and 4-6. The instrumentation itself also mirrors the work’s structure thus: 1- trio, 2- violin & piano, 3- cello & piano, 4- violin & cello, 5- trio, 6- violin & cello, 7- cello & piano, 8- violin & piano, 9- trio. Consequently, the sections 1, 5, and 9 feature the trio, while the other sections are orchestrated with different sub-ensembles.
Once again, for this new work I sought to pursue and develop my research into new sonorities, using extended techniques and unusual ways to combine these instruments.”
“Finally, this classical formation and the extraordinary acoustic possibilities offered by these instruments have given me a large palette of colours to play with in terms of innovative orchestration, which is at the core of my work as a composer.”