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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Concert review: Trio Fibonacci makes convincing case for both old and new at Music Toronto début

By John Terauds on March 14, 2013

(John Terauds phone photo)
(John Terauds phone photo)

Montreal’s Trio Fibonacci made a satisfying as well as brave Music Toronto début at the Jane Mallett Theatre on Thursday night, performing new Canadian music as well as pieces by a virtually forgotten 19th century composer named George Onslow.

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.

Violinist Julie-Anne Derome, cellist Gabriel Prynn and pianist Wonny Song have in their lives as a trio tried to introduce their listeners to something a bit unfamiliar. In this instance, that could describe their whole programme.

The first piece of the evening was Les Interstices Tangibles written for piano and cello by Calgary-based Laurie Radford.

As Music Toronto composer-advisor Jeffrey Ryan pointed out in his introduction, the filling-in of gaps implied by the piece’s title was largely done by the cellist, who plays long sequences of glissandos while the pianist holds on to more solid ground on the keyboard (with occasional forays under the piano lid for a bit of plucking and strumming).

Prynn has a particularly silken bowing arm and remarkable control. Everything he played was poised, seamless and impeccably shaped. The Radford piece benefited — but so did the 19th century music.

Song kept a feathery touch at the piano throughout the evening — something that especially suited the 19th century music, but also kept the two Canadian pieces from getting too heavy sounding.

The other contemporary work, by Montrealer Ana Sokolovic, involved all three Fibonaccis and contained similar glissando work for both string instruments as well as some complex rhythmic interplay.

Sokolovic’s piece, Portait parlé, was inspired by old French police-identification methods, using parts of the face, but the relationship between her music and the human face was not clear. There were shifting moods and quite a bit of drama to keep it interesting, though.

Here, too, the trio played with an easy assurance that helped convey the substance of the music.

The two longest and oldest pieces on the programme were by Onslow: his ninth and 10th Piano Trios. The first one, from 1823, is light and Classical and aristocratic. The second one, written a year before the composer’s death in 1853, is a magnificent example of classically structured romanticism, with clearly developed themes, a wide dramatic and dynamic range, as well as virtuosic writing for all members of the trio.

While Derome’s playing was occasionally a bit brittle, the Fibonaccis brought this music to life with all the right notes of grandeur as well as joy and introspection. It was a treat to hear Onslow’s chamber music performed live — and even more of a joy to want more.

Let’s hope the Fibonaccis can be invited back to introduce us to some more obscure treats.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
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