CONCERT REVIEW: Pianist Juliana Osinchuk at the Lyceum
by Zdanna Krawciw
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The 2004-2005 Music Series sponsored by The Washington Group Cultural Fund under the patronage of the Embassy of Ukraine presented a recital by pianist Juliana Osinchuk on Sunday, March 13, at the Lyceum in Alexandria, Va.
Dr. Osinchuk is a versatile pianist performing internationally both as soloist and as chamber musician. She is also an active educator, developing music workshops for students and presenting lecture-recitals for professional and community groups. As a champion of contemporary American music, Dr. Osinchuk has premiered numerous works to great critical acclaim.
The recital at the Lyceum showcased her talents both as a piano virtuoso and as an excellent raconteur. The commentary provided by Dr. Osinchuk about the various works on the program was quite interesting and added to the intimate feeling of this pleasant Sunday afternoon concert.
The opening work on the program was the Sonata in C Major by Dmytro Bortniansky, the featured Ukrainian composer, who is well-known for his choral works. Hearing this piano Sonata, written in the classical style of Mozart, was a revelation. It was interesting to discover that the master of choral liturgical music also contributed to the wealth of piano literature.
A short elegant Rondo by Hummel, another contemporary of Mozart, was followed by a rendition of Schumann's "Papillons," a work that embodies all the principles of romantic music. Based on the writings of Jean Paul, it is a musical description of a masked ball. The variations are whimsical delightful portraits of the various characters who participate in the festivities, and the music requires the performer to quickly change moods while preserving the integrity of the whole. Dr. Osinchuk succeeded in evoking the excitement of the entire piece, but the contrasts between the different personalities depicted could have been more dramatic.
The first half of the program concluded with two works by American contemporary composers. In the "Raconto for Piano Solo" by Lawrence Moss, a member of the music faculty at the University of Maryland who was able to attend the recital, Dr. Osinchuk succeeded in weaving the complex tonal relationships of the work into a lovely paysage.
Philip Munger is an Alaskan composer and Dr. Osinchuk, who is also a resident of Alaska, has premiered several of his works. The composition presented on Sunday was the "Kokinhenik Toccata, Op. 39" which refers to the Kokinhenik Island in Alaska. The turbulent beginning and ending of the work emulate the fury of the water surrounding the island, while the slow brooding middle section suggests its mystery. Dr. Osinchuk's reading of the work proved her to be a particularly adept interpreter of contemporary music with the ability to analyze and understand its complex structure.
The second part of the program was devoted to the music of Liszt. Dr. Osinchuk seems to have a particular affinity for Liszt's music and, for this listener at least, this portion of the program was the highlight of the afternoon. Two pieces from "Glanes de Woronice," "Ballade Ukraine" and "Complainte," which were written under the influence of Liszt's visits to an estate in western Ukraine, used themes from popular Ukrainian folk songs and the familiar melodies resonated with this audience.
In the four "Consolations" chosen for this program, Dr. Osinchuk exhibited a lovely lyrical tone and created the intimate quiet mood that is characteristic of these lovely short pieces of music. The final work in the program was Liszt's transcription of the waltzes from Gounod's opera "Faust," and here Dr. Osinchuk had the opportunity to showcase her spectacular technique. The show-stopping performance brought her a standing ovation from an appreciative audience and she responded with an encore, a brilliant étude by Moritz Moszkowski.
After the concert there was a reception to provide an opportunity to meet the artist and to honor the Cultural Fund's founder and former director, Laryssa Courtney.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, April 3, 2005, No. 14, Vol. LXXIII
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