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Natalya Pasichnyk (piano)
Jakom Koranyi (cello)
Luthando Quave (baritone)
Emil Jonason (clarinet)
Christian Svarvar (violin)
Olga Pasichnyk (soprano)
rec. August/September 2015, Studio 2, Sveriges Radio, Stockholm, Sweden.
BIS BIS-2222 SACD [76:18]

The BIS label does a neat turn in unusual quasi-folk or classical National music programmes, and this one takes us to Ukraine, another Eastern European country that has taken more of its fair share of occupation of one kind or another. Pianist Natalya Pasichnyk’s note at the back of the booklet sums up the title for this album: “music that was possibly the only consolation available for those who composed it during different periods in the tragic history of Ukraine.”

This is indeed a ‘beautiful, melancholy and emotive world.’ The first three piano solos are in minor-key or rhapsodic modes in the romantic styles of ‘Ukraine’s Chopin’, Viktor Kosenko, and Mykola Lysenko, the latter regarded as a founding figure and forceful influence in Ukrainian national music up to and beyond his death in 1912. Several of the composers here were his students. Lysenko’s Sorrow for cello and piano and the sorrowful expressiveness of the song Meni odnakovo further establish the Ukrainian view on the oppression of Tsarist Russia.

There is of course plenty of folk-music influence throughout the programme, and the rhythmic dance and klezmer feel of Myroslav Skoryk’s Carpathian Rhapsody lightens the mood while keeping faith with the ‘soul’ of the whole. This is also true of the Bartók-like virtuoso Allegro for violin and piano by Yuliy Mejtus. Skoryk’s Melody, a vocalise for soprano, violin and piano is another piece that is striking for the emotive effectiveness of its simplicity.

Levko Revutsky’s Preludes have a Rachmaninov/Scriabin vibe, while the first movement of Borys Lyatoshynsky’s Shevchenko Suite is rather special, a ‘song without words’ descriptive of vast landscapes and poignant memories. Founder of the Lviv conducting school, Mykola Kolessa is represented by three Kolomyjky or Carpathian Dances, folk dances of the ancient Hutsul people from the Carpathian mountains which, heard blind, no doubt most would ascribe to Bartók. Vasyl Barvinsky, the founder of the Lviv compositional school, had his works burnt by the KGB and he spent his later years reconstructing as much as he could. The Prelude Op. 1 No. 2 is a real miniature gem.

Valentyn Sylvestrov is the most internationally known of the composers here. His music was banned by the Soviets in the 1970s. His ethereal Bagatelle is described as “representative of his rebellion late in life against the pompous inhumanity and heroism of Soviet aesthetics.” The programme is closed with Arkady Filippenko’s spectacular Toccata.

This recording opens an entire world of music that will be unfamiliar to even the most seasoned of collectors, but the world revealed is indeed one of rare beauty that deserves wider recognition. There are of course a variety of influences colouring many of these pieces but they all share a unique link in terms of their character – indicative both of suffering and resilience in an existence few of us can comprehend. Exemplary performances and the usual very high BIS recording standards complete the picture.

Dominy Clements

Mykola LYSENKO (1842-1912)
Dumka-shumka (Second Piano Rhapsody on Ukrainian Folk Themes) [8:54]
Viktor Stepanovych KOSENKO (1896-1938)
Étude No.8 from 11 Études Romantiques for piano, Op. 8 (1922) [3:48]
Consolation for piano [2:28]
Sum (Sorrow), elegy for cello and piano, Op.39 [7:25]
Meni odnakovo (It Makes no Difference to me) for voice and piano [5:02]
Myroslav SKORYK (b. 1938)
Carpathian Rhapsody for clarinet and piano [6:03]
Yuliy MEJTUS (1903-1997)
Allegro for violin and piano [2:56]
Levko REVUTSKY (1889-1977)
Prelude, Op. 4 No. 2 (Lento) [2:59]
Prelude, Op. 4 No. 2 (Vivace) [1:27]
Boris Mikolayovich LYATOSHYNSKY (1895-1968)
I. Andante sostenuto - Poco piů mosso from Shevchenko Suite, Op. 38 [5:53]
Melody for violin and piano [3:35]
Viktor Stepanovych KOSENKO
Vony stojaly movchky (They Stood in Silence) [2:19]
Kyrylo STETSENKO (1882-1922)
Stojala ja i sluhala vesnu (I Stood and Listened to Spring) [1:47]
Viktor Stepanovych KOSENKO
Sumnyj ja (I am Sad) [2:33]
Myroslav SKORYK
Melody for soprano, violin and piano/ [3:56]
Mykola KOLESSA (1903-2006)
Three Kolomyjky (Carpathian Dances) (1958) [5:57]
Vasyl BARVINSKY (1888-1963)
Prelude Op. 1 No. 2 [3:23]
Valentin SILVESTROV (b. 1937)
Bagatelle for piano, Op. 1 No. 1 (2005) [2:19]
Arkady FILIPPENKO (1912-1983)
Toccata [2:50]



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