CONCERT NOTES: Works by Bohdana Filts performed at Ukrainian Institute of America

by Adrian Bryttan

NEW YORK - On Sunday, November 7, 2004, music lovers filled the Ukrainian Institute of America to hear a concert devoted to the works of composer Bohdana Filts.

This was the composer's first visit to the United States. Judging by the variety of attractive works heard that afternoon in New York, it is a shame we had to wait so long to become acquainted with this composer's creative output.

Ms. Filts currently resides in Kyiv and is well-known throughout Ukraine for her contributions to Ukrainian vocal and choral music, art songs, music for piano and solo instruments and large scale symphonic works.

Ms. Filts was born in Yavoriv in the Lviv region, was orphaned in childhood and forcibly expatriated to Kazakstan. Upon returning to Lviv she entered the Lviv Musical Academy to study composition with Stanislav Liudkevych. Currently, she also works as a musicologist at the Kyiv National Institute of the Arts.

The UIA concert featured assured performances of works for piano solo, art songs and violin piano duets. Perhaps the musical style of Ms. Filts can be best described as combining a modern idiom with accessibility for the listener.

Her "Six Vignettes" for piano were particularly attractive in creating self-contained miniatures that often started with dissonant, brittle themes but were always interestingly and logically worked out. The compact and whimsical writing played with convincing verve by pianist Maryna Rohozhyna.

In the art songs, Ms. Filts revealed an impressive feel for the vocal line and a romantic sweep that sensitively colored the various texts. Soprano Lyubov Shchybchyk's appealing lyric voice was well-suited to two groups of songs: "Ya Ne Tebe Liubliu" (Ivan Franko), "Zhuravlyni Sny" (Oleksandr Malandii), "Teche Voda z-pid Yavora" (Shevchenko), Nasha Duma, Nasha Pisnia (Taras Shevchenko) and "Vesnianyi Viter" (Oleksander Oles), "Nizhno, Nizhno, Jak Podykh Bylyny" (Oles) and "Syritka" (Shevchenko).

Both performers successfully communicated the thrust of each song as well as many of the nuances, although Ms. Rohozhyna's accompaniment was too thick in texture and volume.

Violinist Oleksandr Abayev contributed somewhat tentative renditions of the violin pieces on the program: "Spring Romance," Scherzo and "Legend." He was more convincing in the Arkan, which also featured idiomatic Hutsul style writing by the composer.

The concert also included several more piano compositions: a colorful use of piquant rhythms and harmonies in the spirited "Transcarpathian Novelettes," a "Melancholy Waltz" and Scherzo. All three performers combined in "Oi, Na Kupala, Kupalochka" - an evocative and beautiful setting of the ritual Kupalo song first recorded by Lesia Ukrainka.

The audience rewarded the composer and performers with enthusiastic applause. This concert was also scheduled to be repeated at the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington on December 9.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, January 23, 2005, No. 4, Vol. LXXIII

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