April 25, 2021 | 8pm
The Wellesley College Russian Department Presents
Premonitions and Reflections:
the Story of Two Elegies
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873—1943) | Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906—1975) | String Quartet no. 7 in F sharp minor, opus 108
I. Allegretto, attacca
II. Lento, attacca
III. Allegro – Allegretto
Sasha Callahan and Katherine Winterstein*, violin
Alexander Vavilov, viola
Leo Eguchi, cello
Olga Talrose*, piano
Written almost 70 years apart, both compositions deal with the sense of loss in their unique way. At the time of writing his first piano trio, Rachmaninoff was only 18 and a student at the Moscow Conservatory. While still far away from the international fame he was to enjoy later in his life, he nevertheless was already well-known as a phenomenal pianist and was making his first steps as a composer. At the time of writing this trio in 1892 Rachmaninoff had no reasons to question Tchaikovsky’s wellbeing. His role model and patron was in good health at the time and enjoyed a very busy schedule full of premieres and conducting appearances. It could be that the elegiac title and the spirit of this trio were adopted in imitation of Tchaikovsky’s great piano trio, written in memory of his good friend Nikolai Rubinstein. There are multiple parallels between the works, including the final appearance of the theme in the guise of a funeral march. Tchaikovsky, however, passed away unexpectedly only 18 months after this trio was written, and it is hard to shake off the particular sense of premonition that this music carries. After Tchaikovsky’s death, Rachmaninoff wrote his second piano trio, also titled elegiac, in memory of the departed master.
While Rachmaninoff seems to have glimpsed into the future when writing his 1st piano trio, Shostakovich was certainly preoccupied with the past when creating his 7th quartet. It was written in March of 1960 and dedicated to his first wife Nina, who died 6 years prior. These 6 years certainly didn’t pass idly: during this time Shostakovich kept composing at a steady pace, creating some of his most famous works, including the cello concerto No.1, piano concerto No.2, Suite for Variety Orchestra, String quartet No. 6, and the epic symphony No.11. His personal life, however, was in turmoil after his brief second marriage fell apart. It seems like it is at this point that his thoughts are gravitating towards Nina and her sudden passing. At only 13 minutes in length, this quartet is the shortest he composed. The brevity, however, is balanced by density. The 3 movements flow into each other without a break and, with minimal brush strokes, masterfully spell out a journey through the stages of grief.
~ Alexander Vavilov
Praised by critics for playing that is “as exciting as it is beautiful,” and for “livewire intensity” that is both “memorably demonic” and “delightfully effective,” violinist Katherine Winterstein enjoys a wide range of musical endeavors, as a chamber musician, orchestral musician, soloist, and teacher. Ms. Winterstein is the concertmaster of the Vermont Symphony, the associate concertmaster of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and she is co-concertmaster of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. In recent seasons she has performed as concertmaster of the Palm Beach Opera, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and also performs regularly with the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, and A Far Cry. She is a member of the Hartt String Quartet, the Providence-based Aurea Ensemble, and the summer of 2020 would have been her 19th with the Craftsbury Chamber Players of Vermont. She has also performed with Boston-based Chameleon Arts Ensemble, Radius Ensemble, and Dinosaur Annex. She has appeared as soloist with several orchestras including the the Vermont Symphony, the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, the Charlottesville Symphony, the Champlain Philharmonic, and the Boston Virtuosi. She served on the performance faculty of Middlebury College in Vermont from 2002-2015, joined the faculty of the Hartt School of Music in September of 2011, and began teaching at Brown University in September of 2015.
Ms. Winterstein plays on a 1779 J.B. Guadagnini violin, on generous loan to her from Mr. William P. Herbst of Montpelier, VT. Her bow was made in 2006 by Benoit Rolland.
An active and versatile performer, Olga Talroze has performed with Jerusalem Symphony and the Palo Alto Philharmonic Orchestra, made appearances at the Voices of Israel International Festival in Berkeley, the October Festival of Russian Music in San Francisco, the Music in Redwoods Concert series in Palo Alto, “Lifetime Learning” concert series in Newton, “Bach, Beethoven and Beyond” series in Natick, as a guest artist with Sheffield Chamber Players and others. As a winner of the concerto competition she has performed Ravel’s piano concerto for the left hand with the Boston Conservatory Orchestra and has participated in the production of Martha Graham’s original version of the “Appalachian Spring” ballet. As a member of a cello and piano duo with Agnieszka Dziubak, she has performed at the Joan Letvin chamber music festival in New Hampshire and collaborated with various Boston area musicians such as Mihail and Ala Jojatu, Leone Buyse and Michael Webster, among others. Olga holds degrees in piano performance from Saint Petersburg State Conservatory, San Francisco Conservatory and the Boston Conservatory. Currently she is a performing faculty at Wellesley College, as well as piano and chamber music faculty and piano collaborator at the Winchester Music School.