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Myroslav SKORYK (b. 1938)
Hutsul Triptych: Childhood (1965) [4:17]
Diptych (1993) [10:59]
24 Paganini Caprices: Caprice No. 19 (2003) [3:07]
Violin Concerto No. 7 (2009) [14:48]
Melody (1981) [3:55]
Cello Concerto (1983) [19:12]
The Stone Host: Spanish Dance (1973) [4:09]
Carpathian Concerto (1972) [16:14]
Nazary Pilatyuk (violin); Valery Kazakov (cello)
Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra/Hobart Earle
rec. Philharmonic Hall, Odessa, Ukraine, 6-8 November 2013
NAXOS 8.573333 [76:42]

Steve Arloff in his review of this release for this site refers back to an earlier recording of the music of Myroslav Skoryk, but I have to admit that the composer’s name was totally unknown to me although there have apparently been a number of recordings of the Carpathian Concerto. That makes the discovery of such an immediately approachable figure all the more gratifying, and whets the appetite for more of the same. Both Steve Arloff and Rob Barnett in their reviews for this site have given full details of the music, and I will not repeat the extensive information which they provided here. Childhood, the first movement of a suite drawn from film music, is lightweight; but the Diptych immediately grabs the attention with its emotional undertow and driving passages for the strings. These qualities are superbly conveyed by the players of the Odessa orchestra although one could perhaps imagine some of the passages being delivered with greater weight.
 
The Paganini transcription is delightfully cynical, contrasting slow passages with scraps of circus-like music which remind me of Schedrin. The very opening of the one-movement Violin Concerto grabs the attention with the soloist’s entry over pounding bass drum beats. Nazary Pilatyuk is perhaps rather backwardly placed in the recording balance — his quiet passages at 3.11 are very reserved — but generally he communicates well and clearly has sympathy with the music which sounds far from easy to play. It is followed by the Melody, a slow meditation rather in the style of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, which apparently did much to make Skoryk’s music popular in his native Ukraine.
 
The Cello Concerto is again a much more serious piece, beginning with a slow meditation for the soloist which has positively elegiac Elgarian overtones. One might wish for a slightly more forward placement for Valery Kazakov, whose ruminations might benefit from closer observation; but he plays with skill and commitment. The Spanish Dance which follows is another piece almost in the ‘light music’ mould, which finishes rather abruptly as if something else was expected to follow; but the Carpathian Concerto which concludes the disc deserves its star billing on the cover. It is not a conventional ‘concerto for orchestra’ in the style of Kodály or Bartók, but simply a glorious romp through Ukrainian folk material featuring soloistic turns from individual players as it goes on its merry way. There are also some delightfully novel effects such as the gong tremolo (I think) at 5.00 which sounds like a demented vacuum cleaner. There are contributions also from a cimbalom which adds an ethnic touch to the music at 8.50, as well as solo viola and violin who lead a series of increasingly strident dances.
 
This is a well-contrasted programme, setting lighter pieces in juxtaposition with music of real emotional strength. The booklet notes by Richard Whitehouse refer to his “innovative scores from the 1960s” with the implication that in this period the composer flirted with the modernist school. None of the music here gives any suggestion of avant garde experimentation; it is simply very well written. It is also very well played here under the baton of Hobart Earle, and although the recordings were apparently taken from live performances to celebrate the composer’s 75th birthday there is no evidence of any caution in the readings; the audience are never in evidence either. Clearly the orchestra know and enjoy Skoryk’s music, as indeed they should. A real discovery – and the cover illustration of Orange fog over the Carpathian Mountains is beautifully eerie, too.
 
Paul Corfield Godfrey
 
Previous reviews: Rob Barnett ~ Steve Arloff