May 15 Mykola Lysenko Column Hall hosted the first online translation concert for the National Philharmonic during the pandemic in Ukraine. In the third month of isolation, one of the largest art institutions in Ukraine finally decided to promote art in an attractive and promising way and stop #cultural quarantine. The effect and value of such events is undoubtedly difficult to overestimate: neither the melodic chirr of colored candy wrappers, nor the inspired whispering, nor the treacherous cough. Suddenly – technical failures in livestreaming.
The lack of reunion with the beauty of art spoiled the happy possibility of a quiet cough (knock on wood!) drinking a beverage with a pet on one’s laps and once again confirmed that digitalization has taken place only in people’s heads.
The program of the concert was eloquent: from the rondo form, in which the refrain was “Visions Fugitives” by Sergei Prokofiev, to a light evening promenade by the epochs – as episodes. This walk did not follow the exact chronological sequence: at first the romantic paraphrase of R. Wagner/F. Liszt, then wandering on the classicism of Joseph Haydn’s sonata, returning to the most successful episode of this concert – Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne and a desperate saltation to the modernist etude “Locked Keys” by György Ligeti.
Antonii Baryshevski, one of the best pianists of Ukraine, soloist of the National Philharmonic, winner of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition (2014), winner of international competitions, in particular, the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition, Alexander Scriabin Piano Competition (2011, 2020), appeared before the court of all fans of professional classical music. There is no need to talk about pros and cons of such step, but it is necessary to note some features of this online concert.
Before the action, which takes place entirely on the Internet, it is easy to gather information about the works and the concept of the recital program in general. But the weakness of communication was confirmed by a solitary explanation of the program’s construction, which comes from a good external form diversified into the wonderful “Visions Fugitives” between the iconic works of all times. This is not always enough. As well as the interaction between the audience and the organization of the online event.
“Visions Fugitives” op. 22 by Sergei Prokofiev – a refrain that is always there for you. This music is tractable and very demanding at the same time. The first play ensures – the lightness, logic and excellent balance of A. Baryshevsky’s pianism – an unconditional advantage for Prokofiev.
The funeral theme of the recital was first depicted in Wagner-Liszt’s “Death of Isolda”. Wait. The play was pictorially and romantically muted sometimes. But is that all?
The refrain convinces with new force: flexible moves, grace of virtuoso impulses, acrimony of grotesque episodes and boyish admiration are some positive sides of the pianist. However, the next episode, the music of Joseph Haydn, always reveals all the secrets of the soloist’s play. Gyration – cliquish and sad, like quarantine time. Even though between the first and second parts, enthusiastic listeners managed to write ‘applausing’ comments.
Studio recording can be convincing if you want to have an idealized version. The stereophony of an online concert also detracts a certain effect of the live exchange between the performer and the audience. But the main thing that can be expected at the highest level of piano skill is the ability to stay true to the epoch and to be able to construct an individual interpretation of the work. Contrary to the beliefs of many pianists, to which A. Baryshevsky doesn’t exactly belong, J. Haydn’s sonatas are in many aspects more complicated than Mozart’s sonatas are. In this performance of the sonata in E flat major, most of the melodic lines were broken, the shaky construction of the whole fell down, and diligent melisms lived their independent life. Perhaps, this was a part of the individual interpretation of the sonata. The performance sounded gentle, with attention to details, but without their consolidation.
“Visions Fugitive” fixed everything again. Rhythmic, active and short plays sounded reassuring. Nocturne in f minor has already reminded Chopin’s bitter statements about the lockdown’s continuation. Right before the climax, the soloist rushed arrogantly, beyond the limits of an adaptive quarantine, to the whirlpool of events, into the fuss of feelings without hope of salvation. But the enthusiasm wasn’t enough. The all-in campaign ended. In places where there was no virtuosity or gentle overflows of ingenious mascara, the soloist’s endurance began to fail.
When the Ukrainian public comments, theyalways swallows the lacks and praises the positive. The positive is certainly more noticeable than the minimal inconvenience due to the discomfort or lack of concentration of the soloist on stage. However, do I “have the right to make a mistake”? Or is the responsibility too high? And it shouldn’t matter if it’s livestreaming or a gadget displaying. Music, despite its amazing subjectivity, has a number of axioms. They all are about emotion, enthusiasm, drive and light, which all we need. Music doesn’t exist simply in the time when you click play and listen to online concerts in the background, flipping through the news feed. It lives at this moment, it is unique and won’t happen again. Where does this music come from? From the composer’s state of mind, from the notes read by the performers, or from unique concepts? From the state of co-tuning, exchange and feelings caused by external factors? Real music isn’t selfish. Is it out of a boundless desire to convey, ignite, prosper and live? Even perfect performances sometimes lack clarity.
Finally, the keys to D. Ligeti’s etude №3 in the middle were really rhythmically locked.