Lyrebird Music Society has made a name for itself presenting enjoyable concert performances given primarily by Melbourne classical musicians in a personal and informal manner, sharing quality music on a Sunday afternoon, today in the pleasant concert auditorium of Wyselaskie Hall.
A recital by the hugely talented and busy Ukrainian-Australian violinist Markiyan Melnychenko was a welcome opportunity to hear a unique performer, an award-winning International soloist and an engaging musician, who particularly stands tall with his individual shaping of music with roots in his past.
Introducing the composer Mykola Kolessa (1903-2006) before playing his 3 Ukrainian Dances (3 Kolomyika), Melnychenko spoke of the intermingling and influences of the traditions that came from neighbouring countries, notably Hungary (Bartok) and Romania (Enescu), which were clearly felt in these new art forms. In these newly composed melodies we heard an authentic, passionate and heartfelt expression and a physically edgy, earthy tonal quality. The first, with lyrical song-like melodies and straight ahead dance rhythms, were supported with warmly pedalled piano accompaniment by Stewart Kelly. The second gave us an intensification of more complex rhythms with influences of Bartok in its intent and exploration of high range colour and pitch. The third was truly passionate and virtuosic, technically challenging, with a mixture of imitative “vocal” inflexions and much freedom in tempo. Kelly’s sensitive, warm and colourful pedalling was always fluent, supportive and balanced, perhaps not adding a variety of percussive timbres possible in a freer “orchestral” interpretation.
Mozart’s Violin Sonata No 32 in Bb major opens with an exceptionally slow introduction to the Allegro, a movement with equal demands on both instruments. While there was much colour and warm expression, at times Mozart’s precise detail and clarity in repeated motives, phrasing and distinctive piano rhythms was overshadowed in rushed passages. The second movement Andante gave us a settled, warm, and romantic expression of Mozart’s lyrical, bel canto melodies. A final Allegretto showed the strong technical agility of both musicians, but perhaps the often fluid, forward moving tempo blurred the clarity of some thematic conversation and Mozartian grace and charm.
Kelly introduced Brahms’ Sonata No 2 in A, a late work focussing less on the composer’s angst and melancholia, but on a most lyrical and optimistic, strong and passionate delivery, admirably suiting the duo with their accomplished expression of colour and romantic timbres. The lighter textures of the second movement Andante tranquillo showed complementary timbres and gentle conversations, with Melnychenko inspiring us with his solo work as passionate rising melodies and intense tone colour were expertly contrasted with the beauty of calm soft passages. A speedy pizzicato waltz only briefly lightened the rhythms before Brahms’ powerful and emotionally taut dimensions returned. The third movement demonstrated virtuosic accomplishment from both musicians, with more intensified feeling and final momentum. Highly satisfying and highly applauded.
One of Saint-Saëns’ best known popular works, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, opened with Melnychenko showing the strongest exciting spirit of traditional folk traditions with free, emotive phrases sweeping expressively against Kelly’s thoughtful harp-like arpeggiated chords. In true Sarasate style, the performance proved the soloist’s flair and technical prowess, giving us precise syncopated showmanship, impressive double-stopping and a blazing acceleration to the close. Kelly’s piano accompaniment continued to impress with his sympathetic and technical mastery, but mellow Basque rhythms and bolero dance rhythms were more mellow and smooth rather than percussive and crisp in timbre.
Melnychenko chose a personally significant encore, sharing with us his personal respect for the significant and also the darker times of the history of Vasyl Barvinsky, (1888 – 1963) one of the first Ukrainian composers to gain worldwide recognition as a musician and the founder of a Conservatorium of Music in Lviv, Eastern Ukraine. His Humoresque was a rewarding tribute, a work with vigorous traditional dance rhythms contrasting with nostalgic sweet melodies and much bravura in a lively close.
Julie McErlain reviewed the recital performed by violinist Markiyan Melnychenko , violin, and pianist Stewart Kelly for the Lyrebird Music Society at the Wyselaskie Yuma Auditorium on September 3, 2023.