30 during 30. The most significant classical music works written during Ukrainian Independence

To mark the 30th anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine Independence, The Claquers conducted a survey among the classical music community to compile a list of Ukraine’s musical landmarks over the past 30 years. Participants filled out a questionnaire with three works by Ukrainian composers, which, in their opinion, are the most significant, justifying their choice by one example. A total of 66 respondents took part in the survey: 23 musicologists, 22 performers, 21 composers.

According to the results of the questionnaire, most often experts named works by Valentyn Sylvestrov (11), Alla Zagaykevych (10), Svyatoslav Lunyov (10), Yevhen Stankovych (10), Alexander Shchetynsky (7), Maxim Kolomiiets (5), Alexey Shmurak (5), Zoltan Almashi (4), Anna Havrylets (4), Oleksandr Kozarenko (4), Victoria Poleva (4), and Maxim Shalygin (4).

Among the works the experts most often chose: “Tutti” by Svyatoslav Lunyov (10), “Requiem for Larissa” by Valentyn Sylvestrov (10), Violin Concerto No. 2 by Yevhen Stankovych (7), opera “Moses” by Myroslav Skoryk (5), opera-requiem “Iyov” by Roman Grygoriv and Illia Razumeiko (5), “Funeral service for those who starved to death” by Yevhen Stankovych (5), opera “Night” by Maxim Kolomiiets (4), Symphony No. 6 by Valentyn Sylvestrov (4), “Five Wedding Songs from Pokuttia” by Olexandr Kozarenko (3), “Irradiated Sounds” by Olexandr Nesterov (3), and “Letters to Anna” by Maxim Shalygin (3).


Svyatoslav Lunyov — “Tutti” for large symphony orchestra, 2005

‘It is known what a cardiogram is and why it is needed for. I consider Svyatoslav Lunyov’s “Tutti” to be something like a cardiogram or, more precisely, a sonogram of our time. And what exactly it shows is a decision for everyone’, — musicologist Ihor Prykhodko.


 

Valentyn Sylvestrov — “Requiem for Larissa” on the words of Taras Shevchenko, 1997–1999

‘“Requiem for Larisa” is a work that brought Ukraine a Grammy nomination. I also consider it as one of the culminations (probably the last, after which — the decline) in Sylvestrov’s work’, — musicologist Liubov Morozova.


 

Yevhen Stankovych — Violin Concerto No. 2, 2005

 


 

Roman Grygoriv and Illia Razumeiko — Opera-requiem “Iyov” 

‘“Iyov” is a bold experience, one of the few works representing modern Ukrainian opera on the world stage, an important step towards the renewal of the national opera’, — musicologist Polina Kordovska. 


 

Myroslav Skoryk — Opera “Moses”, 2001

‘The opera “Moses” is based on the work of the same title by Ivan Franko, in which the idea of creating a state is carried out through a biblical plot. This topic is still painful for our society. And the musical embodiment corresponded to this idea and was realised qualitatively. Besides, it is presented in a language quite understandable to the wide audience’, composer Anton Stuk.


Maxim Shalygin — Symphony for solo violin “Letters to Anna”, 2009–2010

‘“Letters to Anna” requires using an incredible performing resource, attracting opportunities to the limit. Without exaggeration, this is a symphony in the fullest sense, but for a solo instrument’, — violinist Andrii Pavlov.


 

Maxim Kolomiiets — Opera “Night”, 2020

‘“Night” is the work by a composer from a new generation, which reveals the national idea through the prism of a cultural object; the opera itself, in my opinion, is cross-style and cross-genre’, — composer Kira Maidenberg-Todorova.


 

Oleksandr Nesterov — “Irradiated Sounds” (with the “Drevo” ensemble), 1998, 2001

‘Alexander Nesterov joined the movement of the use of authentic folklore in contemporary classical and experimental music. After the diploma work “Old Songs” (1990) by Petro Tovstukha, where songs from Rivne Polissia sound in an authentic timbre, for the first time in Ukrainian music authentic folklore is used in experimental electroacoustic music’, — composer Alla Zagaykevych.


 

Alexey Retinsky — “Salve Regina”, 2017

‘A new level of sounding and writing choral music. The work combines subtle intelligence and sacred symbolism. A lot of encrypted symbols from the medieval musical tradition. Extremely complex texture organization. It is a combination of the Dutch polyphonic school technique and human thinking from the 21st-century intertextual cultural space. A very technical and elegant combination of human timbres and “heavy” drums: bells, timpani, etc.’, — choirmaster Olga Prykhodko.


 

Serhii Zazhytko — “Like that!” for piano and performer, 1997

‘The premiere of Serhii Zazhytko’s work was like an explosion in the post-Soviet musical space of Ukraine and indeed provided a springboard for the development of a new music direction — performance and happening. With the beginning of the “new wave” in Zazhytko’s work, our generation and those who followed us felt free and stopped being “afraid” to write freely, without internal restrictions. Also, going beyond the established limits of perception those years, creative freedom, emancipation, even provocations and outrage, unusualness, non-triviality, novelty make this work and other opuses of Zazhytko especially important and relevant for Ukrainian music to this day’, — composer Lyudmila Yurina.


 

Oleg Bezborodko — Concerto grosso ma non molto, 2010

‘A unique example of Ukrainian chamber music. Perfect work with form, very accurate dialogues of solo instruments (violin and bassoon), and absolutely clear and at the same time contemporary composer’s language’ — double bass player Nazar Stets. 

Read the interview with Nazar Stets and Niek de Groot.


 

Ihor Stetsiuk — fantasy “Sacral Dances” for symphonic orchestra and jazz-band, 2012

‘The fantasy outlines new vectors of Ukrainian neo-folklore development, namely in the fusion direction. In the work it is observed not only the versatility of the use and transformation of bright purely folk thematic elements, but also the sophistication of impressionistic harmonies, contemporary jazz and ethnic rhythms, and clear structure of the form. The composer’s inventiveness in timbre mixes of either live instruments or their organic combination with electronic instruments, which form new timbres of traditional folk instruments (drums, trembitas, etc.), is especially valuable. The work has been repeatedly performed in Ukraine and in many European countries, where it presented Ukrainian contemporary music’, — composer Sergei Leontiev.


 

Zoltan Almashi — Suite for cello, 2019

‘Three centuries after the appearance of Bach’s cello suites, Zoltan Almashi once again draws our attention to the cello, opening up new sound possibilities of this instrument’, — musicologist Natalka Pysanka. 


 

Anna Korsun — “Vocerumori”, 2012

‘A vocal work without a traditional vocal sound. It can be performed not by vocalists (as it was during the Kyiv premiere). A reference to Russolo’s legacy, a good parallel in the title. The author’s victory with this work at the Gaudeamus Award competition’, — musicologist Dmytro Polyachok. 

Read the interview with Anna Korsun, and article about composer’s “Ulenflucht”.


 

Svyatoslav Lunyov — Wreath of sonatas “Musick to heare” for piano, 1995

‘One of the exemplary monumental works of the 21st-century Ukrainian piano repertoire, which strangely combines the total structure of the compositional material with post-romantic modern poetics, depth with the virtuosity of music… A real masterpiece’, — pianist Eugene Gromov.


 

Vitaliy Vyshynsky — “Forest”, 2011

‘The work reflects a rare embodiment of European minimalism for Ukrainian music, combining fresh musical taste with accessibility for any listener, and is an example of recital music that can successfully fit into any program context. Ingenuity in the smallest details and creativity of the general artistic portrait of “Forest” gives the chance to all concerned participants to observe a work which is unique in this genre for the Ukrainian and world concert environment’, — violinist Orest Smovzh.


Leonid Hrabovsky — “Credo”, 2019

‘It seems that the more restrictions composer sets for himself the more complicated for a musical piece to become not just the result of technical issues but an artwork. That is why no every algorithmically-created music sounds like it was not created by computerized method but as the art piece. Leonid Hrabovsky music does. Presented during “Kyiv Music Fest” in 2019, “Credo” could put someone through either scenic moments of Maidan or emotional experience and made an unforgettable impression. As a reflection of Revolution of Dignity, it is a remarkable piece for mentioning in the list of the most valuable works that is dedicated to the restoration of Ukrainian Independence’, — musicologist Liza Sirenko.


Yevhen Stankovych — Opera-mystery “When The Fern Blooms”, 2011


Alla Zagaykevych — “Air mechanics”, 2005


 

Oleksand Kozarenko — “Five Wedding Songs from Pokuttia», 1992 


 

Valentyn Sylvestrov — Symphony No. 6, 1995

 


 

Alexander Shchetynsky — “Requiem”, 1991, 2004


 

Yurii Laniuk — “Annonciation”, 2003

 


 

Alexey Shmurak — “I Have Lost My Eurydice_the four lost dances” for 11 instruments, 2014


 

Victoria Poleva — Ballet “Gagaku”, 1994


 

Karmella Tsepkolenko — “Tonight “Boris Godunov””, 2008


 

Volodymyr Runchak — Plays “Homo ludens I–XII” for solo instruments, 1991–2018


 

Bohdana Frolyak — Symphony No. 2, 2009


 

Victoria Poleva —  Opera “Boundless Island”, 2019


 

Bohdan Sehin, Alexey Shmurak, Maxim Kolomiiets — Audiovisual project “Sound Insulation”, 2011


 

Yevhen Stankovych — “Requiem for those who starved to death”, 1999 

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