Review | Marina Thibeault: a special guest for the Trio Fibonacci

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

by Guillaume De Pauw

Invited to join the Trio Fibonacci for their next concert, the presence of violist Marina Thibeault will allow the ensemble to tackle some gems of the piano quartet repertoire. Our interview with this virtuoso before the concert ‘Le trio se met en quatre’ gives us a foretaste of a program which delves into German Romanticism.

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To begin with, it is notable that the Trio Fibonacci rarely invites outside artists to join them, which raises the question of how a musician can create their own niche within an established group. “I feel all the more fortunate to be joining an experienced ensemble,” Ms. Thibeault says. “The members of the trio already have a great complicity, so once in rehearsal we can immediately explore different interpretation options. We will be able enrich each other’s practice by deciding on the colours and nuances we wish to give to the works.’

The viola: unsung hero of a golden age

The sonority of the viola, with its tragic power and depth, has a reputation for being particularly suited to Romanticism. This repertoire was indeed of great importance in the violist’s career. “When I was 15, I heard the Brahms sonatas and fell in love with the viola. Both Brahms and Schumann were able to give this instrument, which was often unloved at the time, its letters of nobility. In addition, I had the chance to play Brahms’ op. 60 with Peter Wiley of the Guarneri Quartet at the Curtis Institute of Music, one of the most beautiful memories of my student years,” she recalls.

A love triangle in a quartet

It is often said that this particular Brahms piano quartet expresses Johannes Brahms’ unhappy or unrequited love for Clara Schumann. This story of passion greatly affected Ms. Thibeault in her teenage years. “I spent hours exploring dusty volumes of books to read the letters they sent each other. I was really moved by this very innocent yet passionate relationship, in the greatest romantic tradition. And it went beyond their romance as it’s commonly portrayed. There was a kind of adoration, a devotion, but also a love in the universal sense of the word – when you think of Brahms helping Clara Schumann to look after her children, for example,” adds Ms. Thibeault. When asked if this translates musically, she recalls this anecdote: “Robert Schumann had actually transposed the letters of Clara’s name into musical notes in a score, and Brahms used that motif at the beginning of this quartet”.

As for Schumann, his Piano Quartet Op. 47 was premiered in 1842, considered the composer’s ‘Year of Chamber Music’, during which he devoted himself entirely to this genre. Indeed, the work allows us to fully appreciate all of Schumann’s mastery in the medium. “This piece also has a special place in my career. I performed it at my debut with Matt Haimovitz, Andy Simionescu and Navah Perlman in New York, and more recently at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival with the Tempest Trio, which brings together performers of international reputation,” concludes the virtuoso.

An artist committed to giving a voice to minorities

From Johannes Brahms to Robert Schumann, we could not end this interview without mentioning Clara Schumann’s place in history and, more generally, the place of women in music throughout the centuries. The viola player attaches a great deal of importance to women composers, as shown by the pieces featured on her album Elles (ATMA Classique 2019). “I try above all to defend minorities, whatever they may be, but without being dogmatic about it either. Let’s just say that with equal quality, I would favour those who are less likely to be heard.”

Ending the discussion with a listening tip, Marina Thibeault invites us to discover the Anishinaabe artist Melody McKiver. She has performed two of her works (Ningodwaaswi and Niizh) in solidarity with First Nations and communities affected by the atrocities committed in residential schools.

These pieces will certainly strike a chord with listeners as they await the next concert with the Trio Fibonacci.

Trio Fibonacci and Marina Thibeault

Friday, May 6th

Bourgie Hall, 7:30 pm


Johannes Brahms | Quartet for piano and strings in C minor, op. 60

Robert Schumann | Quartet for piano and strings in E flat major, op. 47


This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


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