By Gabriel Prynn, cellist
We are delighted to present to you our program Nordic Stars – Trio Fibonacci’s 2017 Christmas concert.
Some of the composers on this concert will be very familiar to you, like Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius. You are sure to recognize the famous Christmas melodies, which will be scattered across this musical evening, even if the names of the composers themselves may be new to you.
Our aim with this program is to combine repertoire which truly evokes the magic of the Christmas season, as well as the unique beauty of a Nordic winter – that we know so well in Canada!
This music will also no doubt invite feelings of nostalgia that we associate with the coming of the end of the year.
Songs for Christmas
We begin the concert with well-known vocal repertoire associated with Christmas time.
It is often said that of all the instruments of the orchestra, it is the sonority of the strings that most closely resemble that of the human voice. Therefore, we were naturally excited to transcribe Christmas songs for our instruments for this concert.
Indeed, when interpreted on the violin or cello, these vocal works take on a new personality.
Transcribing music for different combinations of instruments is an important practice in the history of music. In some cases, the goal was mainly to promote a specific piece, to make it accessible to the public at a time when radio and recordings did not yet exist and professional concerts only took place in major cities. Music lovers could thus enjoy the music of their favourite composers by playing these transcriptions in the comfort of their own living rooms. Even in the 20th century, the legendary composer Pierre Boulez reminds us how in 1945, just after the Liberation when he was studying at the Paris Conservatoire, four-hand piano arrangements were the only way to get to know the great works of Stravinsky.
Another motivation for producing transcriptions is of course to pay homage to a work we admire, which is why we chose to transcribe the beautiful Christmas Songs of Peter Cornelius for this concert. Cornelius was a student – one could even say a disciple – of the great composer and virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt.
In these song transcriptions, made especially for this concert by the musicians of the Trio Fibonacci, you will hear familiar melodies with new colors thanks to the warmth and richness of the strings. The lullabies of Rebikov and Reger remind us that Christmas is a time to celebrate birth and new life. The Lullaby by American composer Amy Beach, composed in the last years of the 19th century, is particularly evocative and touching.
A minimalist spirituality
Estonian composer of Arvo Pärt is the most played of all living composes today. Our concert will feature his iconic work Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirrors in the mirror), which asks us to ponder the theme of infinity – the kind of philosophical and religious reflection one might well have as the year draws to a close.
This piece has been arranged by the composer for a multitude of different instruments, but will be performed in its original form for violin and piano as part of this concert.
The magic of this composition is that Pärt combines harmonies which are gentle and familiar to us, with bell-tone effects, called the tintinnabular style (from the Latin tintinnabulum, meaning « a bell »), which is very much Pärt’s signature.
Pärt’s music has often been described as “a cathedral of sound”. The sublime and spacious acoustics of the Bourgie Hall, where the audience is surrounded by magnificent stained glass, could hardly be a better venue for such a work.