July/August 2004

2004 Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival
August 4, 2004
Chamber Music with Alexander Tselyakov

Triumph over Disaster. How else to explain that the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in The Music Department of the University of Brandon, in Manitoba, hiring as a faculty member, Alexander Tselyakov, considered by some to be the successor to Vladimir Horowitz.

The first mind-blower of the program was Trio Pathetique in D minor by Dmitri Shostakovitch, who survived two denunciations under Stalin for writing "formalist", i.e. non-patriotic music, and for writing a song cycle from Jewish Folk Poetry in the anti-Semitic Soviet Union. Shostakovich again turned to the subject of anti-Semitism in his Thirteenth Symphony (Babi Yar).The symphony sets a number of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the first of which commemorates a massacre of the Jews during the Second World War. Triumph over Disaster.

Alexander Rosenblatt, Tselyakov's fellow student at the Moscow Conservatory, turned disaster to triumph. Rosenblatt was blocked from a performing career by a bad accident, which resulted in him turning away from music for a while, then returning as a composer with an interest in jazz, and the tango formulations of Astor Piazzolla. Rosenblatt's Tango, a brilliant piece full of fun and crazy energy was transcribed for a piano, violin and cello and played by Stephen Sitarski and Paul Marelyn accompanying Tselyakov, brought the house to it's feet and the players into convulsions of triumphant laughter.

Alexandr Tselyakov
August 5, 2004
The Vienna Piano Trio and Janina Fialkowska

I began this series of photo/essays on the 11th Ottawa International Chambermusic festival with the question which I quote here: "You're at the lake in the Gatineau's, totally at peace, but thinking of going into busy, muggy Ottawa to hear some chambermusic, which, eventually, could be so good it would make you feel like you're back in the peace of the lake in the Gatineau's where you started. So, why go, if ... you're already there? "

The first answer is: "Just do it." The deeper answer has to do with a deeper meaning of peace that is revealed in the presence of great music played by excellent musicians such as the Vienna Piano Trio and their recital of Dvorak's Piano Trio in E minor, and Janina Fialkowska's performance of two Chopin Piano Concerti.

Peace, as I experienced it last night, in both concerts, is a feeling that comes when your mind stops: 'all thoughts vanish like the track of a bird in the sky', and the mind comes to rest in its own place like the reflection of sky in lake. What brings me this feeling is melody so beautiful, so exquisitely played, that the mind becomes overwhelmed with pleasure and the music is the sound of blissful peace itself.

You know it is this way at the supreme moment of fulfillment, when the last note is fading into a silence that holds audience and players suspended in stillness. Nobody moves, and then it's over-- the applause begins to pour, and, unsatisfied once again, we demand an encore.

Report and photographs by Stanley Fefferman
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