Despite the threats and challenges that continuously accompany Ukrainians during Russia’s full-scale invasion, the Virtuosos Festival is a small part of our large community that is constantly bringing Victory closer. We create a cosy rear line that gives us energy and strength for the struggle.
From 19 May to 4 June, the Myroslav Skoryk Lviv National Philharmonic hosted 15 unforgettable events by 42 “Virtuosos”. The theme of this year’s festival was related to the difficult times in which Ukraine is living and defending its independence. Since March 2022, our muses have not been silent: In times of war, musicians continue to light the way with their art, comforting souls and wounded hearts. The festival focuses on young Ukrainian virtuosos, renowned international performers, music from baroque to modern tango, and, most importantly, Ukrainian music.
The opening evening of the Festival, the evening “Unbreakable”, ended with a symbolic composition for Ukrainians. As you know, the first version of Borys Liatoshynskyi’s Third Symphony was banned by the Soviet authorities. Returning to the origins, the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Lviv National Philharmonic, conducted by Volodymyr Syvokhip, presented its own interpretation of the emblem of that time, which for many musicians became a prototype of the revival of our contemporary history.
On 20 May, the renowned young pianist Kateryna Titova (Ukraine-Germany) surprised the audience with her unconventional artistic solutions in a programme of the most famous European piano pieces.
On the same day, the Lviv Philharmonic virtuosos presented both arrangements of famous classical music masterpieces and original iconic pieces in a kaleidoscope of musical stories. It was a festive carnival dance, a pathetic, desperate cry, and, of course, a love romance: the audience was accompanied on a steep emotional rollercoaster by Spanish performer Rafael Serrallét and Ukrainian musicians Liliia Nikitchuk and Maksym Rymar.
A sample from the golden fund of Ukrainian symphonic music of the 20th century, in addition, the first concert in the alphabet of guitar world treasures, and a legendary piano masterpiece from the youth of the Polish genius: this is how the audience saw the third concert from the festival’s diversity of “Virtuosos”.
Entrusting their compositional talent to the beauty of the Ukrainian language and the poetic heritage inspired by it, Mykola Lysenko, Kyrylo Stetsenko, Yakiv Stepovyi, Denys Sichynskyi, Stanislav Liudkevych, Vasyl Barvinskyi and Stefaniia Turkevych-Lukianovych created a number of treasures. In a concert on 23 May, they were presented by the chamber alliance of Volodymyr Shahai and Vitalii Bobrovskyi. According to their interpretation, each Ukrainian solo song was presented to the audience as a whole opera in miniature.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian-German pianist Violina Petrychenko offered the audience a recital programme intertwined with lyrical moods and states. It is dreams that lift us above the ordinary, that encourage us to light and joy.
A fantastically creative magician of sound and a fearless innovator of the era – in a concert on 25 May, the figure of the “Venetian wizard” was reimagined by the soloists and orchestra musicians of the Lviv Virtuosos led by Dmytro Lohvyn. They performed rarely performed works that have not left modern music lovers indifferent – although even during the lifetime of the extremely popular Vivaldi, it was difficult to take fans of him by surprise.
The worldview of any artist is revealed through his work. In the Carpathian Concert, Myroslav Skoryk, perhaps for the first time – so originally – formulates that fantastic flair, thanks to which we get deeply into the history of our people. The music of Karol Szymanowski is also connected with it. And the lightness of the piano concerto by the Swiss-French composer Pierre Wissmer performed by soloist Maksym Shadko and the Lviv National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Vincent Kozlovsky at the event on 26 May gave the audience a pleasant aftertaste of neoclassical harmonies.
Dissonances, complex harmonies and jazz elements are in the whirlwind of flames of a dance that Astor Piazzolla has managed to raise to a pedestal among the weighty blocks of academic classics. Once a street dance of the lower social strata, it is now an exquisite symbol, the essence of the very love of rhythmic movement, seduction with meaningful pauses and intonations – this is how it was seen at the performance on 27 May.
On 27 May, Nataliia Gordieieva and Violina Petrychenko, performers who play at leading stage venues, also held an intelligent chamber conversation about Ukraine. So the degree of their immersion in delicate sound, elegance of forms, and, as a result, the high flight of musical thought, is always as high as possible. The Ukrainian Poem concert, like this genre itself, which originates from an ancient literary tradition, firmly linked elements of the past and present.
The 31 May performance was about the music of life that flourishes in our cities against all. Each of the pieces told magical stories – whether about an elegant European city on the water, Venice in the 18th century, or about the colourful neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires from the twentieth century to the present day. All of this is in the microcosm of tango, a tango of passion and innovation, arranged from various instruments for string orchestra and the indispensable guitar. Every note was played with reverence for this dance.
One of those who laid the foundations of the Ukrainian present is unmistakable description of Myroslav Skoryk. On the third anniversary of his death, on 1 June, the composer was honoured by renowned Lviv soloists and ensembles at the Philharmonic, for which the Maestro became a patron and symbol of musical existence.
“Mi palpita il cor” happened on 2 June, the programme was a time for consolation and empathy for the wounded soul. During the performance of well-known Ukrainian performers specialising in baroque music, it was possible to plunge into bright hope and fleeting joy. The music lent a shoulder, because this has been its purpose since ancient times, and it allows us to rethink all the troubles for the better.
The piano duet genre has recently gained wide favour with both composers and audiences. On 3 June, the programme of the talented Kharkiv residents, international competition winners Ihor Sediuk and Oleh Kopeliuk, revealed its entire repertoire history in the incarnations of world and Ukrainian composers. During the evening, we heard one of Franz Schubert’s last works, a sensual fantasy for piano for 4 hands, which is one of the iconic duet examples, original works by Ukrainian composers Volodymyr Ptushkin and Liudmyla Shukailo, and arrangements of famous popular works by Bizet, Ravel, Brahms and Dvorak. The concert also featured a number of new works by contemporary Finnish and Ukrainian composers Kirmo Lintinen and Dmytro Malyi. The compositions chosen by the pianists were associated with inexhaustible musical imagination and the dominance of dance.
Despite the tenth year of the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war, foreign musicians come to Lviv to show our unity and keep our spirits up. This time, one of the most famous of his generation, Italian conductor Rafael Ponti, together with the Lviv National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, presented a programme of romantic and contemporary works on 4 June to show that the world is with Ukraine, and victory will be on our side.
The muses are not silent. See you soon!
Photo: Danylo Bedrii, Vitalii Hrabar
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