Notes and Editorial Reviews
REFLECTIONS & RELATIONSHIPS
Yaroslav Senyshyn (pn); Susan O’Neill Senyshyn (fl)
ALBANY 1444 (64:29)
Années de pèlerinage:
(trans. for flute).
Jeux: Sonatine pour Flûte et Piano:
In Memorium to the Victims of Chornobyl.
op. 33/1, 2.
Étude no. 1 in c,
Captured “live,” pianist Yaroslav Senyshyn and his wife, flutist Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn, present a program polarized between Romantic and contemporary music, with the Ibert, an unabashedly sentimental work by a 20th-century composer, bridging the gap between the two disparate genres. Whether the music illustrates
Reflections and Relationships
to the degree hypothesized by Senyshyn in his program notes must be evaluated subjectively by each listener, but considered purely as music, this CD contains excellent performances of intriguingly varied repertoire. Senyshyn’s Liszt is exultant, dramatic, dreamy, rhetorically cohesive, with smoothly executed transitions and a beautifully shaded tonal palette. Senyshyn negotiates the
with ease; ditto the dynamic extremes—this is Liszt, after all. Altogether this is an ingratiating, satisfying performance. The Franck Sonata was written for violin and piano, but is occasionally heard in a transcription for flute, as here. The flute “sings” as well as the violin, and is as agile: O’Neill-Senyshyn’s richly emotive playing in the slower movements and her easy mastery of the testing rapid-fire unisons in the fast ones easily supports those claims. However, the flute is compromised by the necessity for taking a breath from time to time (I may be wrong, but I haven’t heard of classical flutists employing circular breathing, as some saxophonists do). Nonetheless, in the right hands (as here), the instrument is capable of beautiful, long-lined phrases. The primary consideration, then, is timbral, with the sound of a vibrating column of air contrasted to that generated by bowed or plucked strings. Interpretively, the Senyshyns have a fine grasp of the music’s lyrical, passionate, and rhapsodic nature.
Franck’s piano writing often demands a virtuoso technique and Yaroslav Senyshyn successfully “walks the tightrope,” energetically pressing forward when the music demands it but never outstripping or swamping his partner even when both instruments are at full stretch, as in the exciting second and fourth movements. When he wishes, he’s capable of a truly colossal sound; try Kuzmenko’s
In Memoriam to the Victims of Chornobyl
, in which Senyshyn does as much as a pianist can conceivably do to convey horror through dynamics. He can also play with great delicacy and refinement, as when he’s portraying the innocent children whose play is so devastatingly interrupted. William David Smith’s
No. 1 opens with low, murky textures contrasted with bright shards of sound. Explosive episodes and vehement single-note repetitions, combined with a marked Russian feeling, recall Prokofiev. Initially,
No. 2 substitutes soft sprinkles of sound for brutality: I’m guessing that the
has an important part to play in Senyshyn’s creation of a beguiling, other-worldly atmosphere. The second half of the piece revisits the angry sonic assaults of the first
, but with slightly less intensity. Reeves Medaglia-Miller’s Étude is also somewhat Russian in inclination, with a declarative opening reminiscent of Rachmaninoff. The piece doesn’t strive to be “modern,” and could have been written by a contemporary of Liszt: its periodic, furious athletic figures must require quick, strong fingers, but in its less strenuous moments the music is somber and majestic. The Liszt connection (probably not intended by the composer) can be heard in the, admittedly brief, thematic fragments that hark back to the
. To recap, this is an eclectic program of standard and contemporary music masterfully performed by two insightful, communicative, and virtuosic musicians.
FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper
Works on This Recording
Image, Op. 33 by William David Smith
Yaroslav Senyshyn (Piano)
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