A Celebration of Russian Music
March 5, 1999
West Point Grey United Church
by Angela Uruski
Have you ever experienced a four course meal, rich in delicious cream sauces, succulent meats, a robust French wine, topped with the most sinful chocolate cake you could imagine, requiring you to take a rest due to your overindulgence? In a way, this is what I experienced with Vetta Chamber Music in an evening celebrating Russian Music. While the intensity of the evening caused one to feel fully spent, the trio's mastery of some of the most technically challenging music of the nineteenth century left the audience awestruck. Vetta Chamber Music is composed of three exceptional performers: Janina Kuzmas of Lithuania on piano, Victor Costanzi of Vancouver on violin and Eugene Osadchy of Vancouver on cello.
The composers they selected music from to perform were deeply connected to each other both as musicians and as friends. The first piece performed, Trio Elegiaque, op 9 by S. Rachmaninoff, was written in response to the news of Tchaikovsky's death. This dramatic selection had an intensity and darkness in tone, creating a mood which reflected the sadness and loss Rachmaninoff must have encountered. His emotional tensions and great color dynamics came through as though the piano actually sang to the audience. The brilliance of this mysterious piece is in the echoing and build-up that goes on between the three instruments. It felt as though one were being out on rough Russian waters without relief.
Tchaikovsky's pieces, The Seasons, op 37a, including April Snow-Bell and October Autumn Song was a refreshing contrast to the heavier tones of Rachmaninov's selection. This was performed only by the piano and the cello, giving the piece a lighter touch, imitating the sound of falling leaves or the gentle spring rain.
The last selection, Trio in D minor, op 32 by Arensky, was by far my favorite of the evening. The pianist executed each note with forcefulness and vengeance, reflecting the aggressiveness of this piece. The echoing themes followed by dramatic diminishing phrase made this selection a technical nightmare for the performers but fascinating for the audience to watch and listen. In one section of Arensky's Scherzo Allegro molto, it was as though the pianist seemed to mimick the picking sounds of the violin and cello.
This dynamic trio is one to watch for as they continue to dazzle Vancouver audiences with their foreign flare. Be sure to indulge yourself with a performance by the magnificent Vetta Chamber Music.