The Fifth International Festival Chamber Music Session in Kyiv lasted eight days. The fact that each concert of the festival gathered full houses, with the audience being quite variegated, not biased by professional interests or personal contacts, means that the festival enjoys a great authority in cultural circles, and meets current demands and exigent tastes in the sphere of classical music.
The idea of the festival is to present scarcely known works of classical and modern instrumental music to the Ukrainian audience. However, the concept of the Chamber Music Session first and foremost refers to the performers, not the composers. The reason behind this is not only that the festival was initiated by performers, a duo of pianists Oleksandra Zaitseva and Dmytro Tavanets. The festival stands out among the capital’s other forums of classical music because it aims rather to show original music programs than present a certain name or a number of names. Let us put it this way: it is thought out and directed by performers, with a central principle, a performance genre, artistic style or historical epoch lying in its groundwork. This is a pure performer’s approach to organizing a concert. After all, there is nothing original or exclusive about it, given the sad realities of traditional national festival practice, where the weakest link for some reasons has always been the concept of the concert program, let alone the festival program in general.
Within the short period of the festival’s history, its evolution is evident. First, its scale has grown: whereas at the beginning the festivals lasted for a couple of days, now they last a week. Besides, there is an evident expansion of concert halls: previously the festival’s participants were called “tenants,” now apart from the prestigious halls of the Union of Composers and the Small Hall of Kyiv’s Conservatory the organizers also have the central concert ground, that of the National Philharmonic Society of Ukraine, at their disposal. All of this is an indication that the Chamber Music Session is a cultural event of exceptional status, image, and authority, and has secured itself a solid position in Kyiv’s musical life.
It seems that the scope has also grown. This year it included musicians from Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, and Russia. Ukraine was represented by the Kyiv Piano School and Lviv’s musicians.
Piano ensembles were the main theme. The opening concert “Piano for one, two, three, four, five, and six hands,” was a sort of epigraph. It took place at the Foundation of Raising Support for Arts, and featured works for the left hand only, or for three pianists, Dmytro Tavanets, Olekandra Zaitseva, and Maria Aloe, playing one piano at the same time. The festival’s concept was best embodied by the performances of pianist duos. Each of them had their own specific approach. For example, the Kyivites Alina Romanova and Artem Liakhovych, had a so-called business dialog, without unnecessary sentiments, with rational reckoning on both sides (incidentally their Bach’s Concerto in D minor resembled Glenn Gould’s stylistic manner). The Russian duo, Irina Silivanova and Maksim Purizhinsky, was like the Manilov couple from Hohol’s Dead Souls: they possessed refined finicality and coquetry, which did not spoil the good impression. Conversely, such a manner of playing only underlined the mildness and playfulness of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat major. The most lyrical was the Belgian duo of John Gevaert and Katrijn Simoens. The French Frederic Chauvel and Mark Sole-Leris were the audience’s favorites: imagine two elderly men playing as if they were trying to outrun one another, yet following the rules, being extremely energetic, lively, and positive. The ensemble of Vadym Hladkov and Mendmaa Dorzhin seemed less bright, they very rarely perform in duo, so their performance produced the impression that each of them was playing separately: they are good pianists, but they lacked harmony typical of an ensemble. A piano ensemble is an independent, complicated, and specific genre.
Actually, the festival’s coda was Kyiv’s premiere of Le noces (The Wedding) by Igor Stravinsky for soloists, choir, four pianos and percussion at the National Philharmonic Society. One can only praise the performance of this work by the choir Dumka, a group of soloists, and Lviv’s pianists (Yozhef Yermin, Marianna Humetska, Oksana Rapita, Melania Vilshanytska). The event took place within the framework of the Chamber Music Session, so the festival’s history has acquired yet another bright moment.