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Ukrainian Moods
Lewko REVUZKIJ (1889-1977)

3 Preludes op.4 (1914) [5:19]
Viktor KOSENKO (1896-1938)
Nocturne-Fantaisie op.4 in C sharp minor [6:09]
2 Etudes from op.8 [6:44]
3 Piano pieces op.9 [9:33]
Longing op.11 in C sharp minor [1:57]
Mykola KOLESSA (1903-2006)
Bilder aus Huzulenland (1934) [2:26]
4 preludes [12:41]
Igor SCHAMO (1925-1982)
Ukrainian Suite (1948) [13:08]
from the cycle of 12 preludes (1962) [10:20]
Jurii SCHAMO (1947-2015)
Carpathian Fantasy (1992) [3:26]
Violina Petrychenko (piano)
rec. Immanuel Church, Wuppertal, Germany, 17-19 August 2015.
World première recordings
ARS PRODUKTION ARS38195 SACD [72:44]

As a reviewer I find few prospects more exciting and exhilarating than coming up against a disc of world première recordings. This is even more so when the music is by composers who are virtually unknown to the wider world. I want to echo the hopes expressed by Ukrainian pianist Violina Petrychenko who closes her booklet notes by saying “I hope that the music of Ukrainian composers will find an echo in the hearts of European listeners and rising from oblivion, will be heard in concerts and be found not only in Ukrainian archives, but also published in Europe.”

The music on this disc is simply stated but beautifully so. It will not fail to please lovers of piano music. Once heard the three preludes by Lewko Revuzkij will leave the listener wanting more so it is especially tragic to read that though he lived to be 88 he was effectively compositionally dead after 1928. He produced his total oeuvre during the previous five years after which he was silent. This silence was due to being affected and traumatised by the earth-shattering events of the aftermath of the First World War, the hardship he endured during and after it and the Stalinist terror to come. This all combined to break and extinguish the creative spirit within a sensitive soul.

Though his total of works was considerably larger it is equally tragic to learn of how short a life Viktor Kosenko lived. His music is also lyrically beautiful with a strong sense of the romanticism that composers from the vast swathe of land from the Baltic to the Urals seem to possess in spades. There is more than a suggestion of Rachmaninov that is apparent while listening to this music with a dash of Chopin for good measure.

Mykola Kolessa, in complete contrast to the two previous composers lived and composed for decades dying aged 102. Constrained as were all composers under communism he used folk music to spark his creativity. His Pictures from the land of the Hutsuls (Bilder aus Huzulenland) is a case in point. The Hutsuls are a people who live in the area of the Carpathians in Ukraine and the far north of Romania. They have a rich tradition and language which they are struggling to maintain in the modern world. While the uninitiated will miss the explicit folk references the music is, nevertheless, charming and rich in these references. Even those of us who have no knowledge of the culture will pick up on this.

Igor Schamo, though his life was short by comparison to the long-lived Kolessa, made a significant contribution to the piano music of Ukraine. His Ukrainian Suite is a highly enjoyable tableau of elements of Ukrainian folk melodies. The three preludes taken from his cycle of 12 will encourage any listener to try and hear them all; such is the brilliance of invention that pervades them. Tragedy in terms of hardship, privation, restriction and lives cut too short seems to be a feature that applies to several composers on this disc and that certainly is the case for the last one, Igor Schamo’s son Jurii. This is not so much because 68 is young, though it is hardly old either by today’s standards, but because his death came just as this disc was being completed and before pianist Violina Petrychenko could obtain any more of his compositions. On the strength of his Carpathian Fantasy any listener will naturally want to hear more. I hope that more of his works will be found and performed. As I discovered with her previous disc Slavic Nobility ARS38153 I would be happy to hear anything played by Violina Petrychenko. Her touch is so perfect when applied to the sensitively conceived and marvellously evocative works on this disc which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Steve Arloff




 



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