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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Known and unknown Kobzar

Oleksandr Bystrushkin prepared an audio album Taras Shevchenko. Poems and selected works, which will be available on The Day’s website since January 19
16 January, 2014 - 10:28

People’s Artist of Ukraine came to The Day’s editorial office with a present – a new CD. Oleksandr Bystrushkin is a well-known master of artistic word. His velvety voice is enchanting. Few artists in our country can read verse in the same manner, because he is a great talent. It will be reminded that Bystrushkin is an author, director, and performer of the unique Audio Anthology of Ukrainian Poetry (it took 10 years to accomplish this artistic project), which includes works by 13 poets: classical Sixtiers, and our contemporaries. Those are poems by Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Pavlo Tychyna, Oleksandr Oles, Volodymyr Sosiura, Vasyl Symonenko, Mykola Vinhranovsky, Leonid Kyseliov, Borys Oliinyk, Ivan Drach, Ihor Rymaruk, Vasyl Herasymiuk, Vasyl Stus’s letters to his son and his poems. Most of the poems were set to music of Ukrainian composers. The project became the first anthology of Ukrainian poetry in audio version. Last Christmas Bystrushkin presented the CD The Bible. Ecclesiastes and gave it as a present to all MPs, and now he is presenting his new, but very interesting artistic work based on the Kobzar’s oeuvre.

“Many people in Ukraine are now talking about the 200th anniversary, the government announced 2014 Taras Shevchenko Year, but in reality we have too much noise and too little specifics,” Oleksandr BYSTRUSHKIN considers. “My disc is not dedicated to a ‘red date,’ I created it because it was an urge of soul. For namely the soul makes one do some or other things. Even if you think that you cannot do something, you are not strong enough, you will do it some time later, your soul won’t calm down until you do this. You know, when I look at the CD Taras Shevchenko. Poems and Selected Works, I cannot believe that I did record it in spite of all problems.

“Shevchenko’s work inspires one to create, because he is a deeply Ukrainian poet, and at the same time a poet of universal, global scale. His works are the summit which is hard to be reached and even to dare go there, you need to have great courage and strong belief. The beauty of Shevchenko’s language, the high spirit and powerful energy of every word are clear and close to all people, not only Ukrainians. He is a genius who left his prodigious legacy for us. The album includes six discs. It starts with the poem Neophytes and ends with ‘My Friendly Epistle. To the Dead, the Living, and to Those Yet Unborn.’ I’ve recorded all Kobzar’s poems, except for three – Heretic, Witch, and Kateryna. While compiling, I discovered many things. For example, I remember from school how the teacher emphasized that Caucasus is not a narrative poem, but a long verse. I felt in a new way Shevchenko’s Haidamaks, A Dream, Petrus, etc. I was most impressed by the polyphony of The Blind, both by the power of its words, original plot, and range of feelings.

“My first intention was to record only narrative poems, but when I plunged into the extraordinary texts of our classic, I understood that I cannot ignore his verse, therefore the disc also includes the selected works. I find the music collection interesting as well: you can hear fragments of the works of classics and our contemporaries, such as Lysenko, Bortniansky, Rachmaninoff, Liatoshynsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Stankovych, Leontovych, Sylvestrov, Schnittke, Hubarenko, Skorulsky, Huba, Liudkevych, Stetsenko, Kiva, et al. This music is not decorative; in terms of intonation the works underline and accentuate the high poetry of Shevchenko.

“Over many years Oleh Stupka (he died last year) was my co-author and sound producer of the recordings. This time the disc was recorded and arranged by Kateryna Shuhaieva. She did a colossal work and I am very grateful to her. The ‘Friendly Epistle’ was recorded with difficulties, because I think that especially now, in the crucial period of Ukrainian history the disc would be incomplete without this poem, and this work is more than up-to-date.

“The disc was created owing to support of many caring people, in particular, the director general of the National Radio Company of Ukraine (NRKU) Taras Avrakhov. I was given time to work in the House of Sound Recording and with editors. I was really helped by Mykola Amosov, Kateryna Shuhaieva, Mykola Baidiuk, et al. The last work I recorded was Haidamaky, because I thought I would not be able to do anything after it. This work is a test of my spiritual, moral, and physical strengths, as well as actor’s abilities. The disc will be launched in Kyiv on January 19. There are only 500 copies, but the administration of the NRKU decided to upload it to their website, so that everyone willing could listen to it.

“The original cover was designed by Yurii Marusii. We have been working together with this designer for a long time, and we created jointly the previous discs. Working in the archives of the Taras Shevchenko National Museum he found a scarcely known self-portrait, which the poet drew in one of his manuscripts – namely this picture is used on the cover of the disc. The way in which his image is conveyed is so modern and symbolical! This proves again that Shevchenko is beyond fashion and streams; he is always topical. I dream that everyone will hear his word, especially children and students, I mean youth – our future. I am glad that not only the Kultura channel and National Radio will play this disc, but that it will also be available on The Day’s website.”

By Tetiana POLISHCHUK, The Day