After returning from a month-long concert tour of Italy, the National Academic Symphony Orchestra held its first concert of the 2005 season, as always performing to a full house at the Lysenko Hall of Columns of the National Philharmonic. The concert program and repertoire transcended the traditional bounds. After another tour of Italy a year ago a tragedy befell the orchestra: the orchestra’s 29-year-old soloist, flute section concertmaster, and laureate of numerous international competitions Volodymyr Dmytriyev passed away after a protracted illness. His orchestra colleagues, students and teachers from the Lysenko School of Music, fellow students and lecturers of the Tchaikovsky Academy, and many professional Ukrainian musicians came to pay their last respects to Volodymyr. The orchestra’s latest concert, conceived at the site of his fresh grave, was a musical commemoration of this gifted musician.
It was a grand, pure, and bright concert, during which the National Symphony Orchestra performed four large cycles, directed by the chief conductor, Merited Artiste of Russia and Ukraine, and laureate of the National Shevchenko Prize of Ukraine Volodymyr Sirenko. The Merited Artiste of Ukraine Prof. Oleh Kudriashov was the first to appear onstage. He spoke fondly of his student and performed the Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra by Vitaly Hubarenko. It was another brilliant performance of one of the best flute pieces of the twentieth century, which the author dedicated to Kudriashov forty years ago. It was also part of Volodymyr Dmytriyev’s repertoire. Then People’s Artiste of Ukraine Natalia Svyrydenko, Kudriashov’s partner in the Dmytro Bortniansky Trio, performed Francis Poulenc’s Concert Champкtre for Harpsichord and Orchestra. Ms. Svyrydenko explained her choice:
“Volodia spent the best days of his life in France, where he won First Prize at the International Competition in Paris. That is why I selected this wonderful concert by the French composer Poulenc. Moreover, I repeatedly discussed with Volodymyr Sirenko the idea of performing it for the first time in Ukraine. This wonderful composition and the opportunity to perform it with an outstanding symphony orchestra was the motivating force behind this idea. Volodia Dmytriyev himself was looking forward to the premiere. The light and occasionally sad music of the concerto is worthy of his memory.”
After the interlude, Oleksandr Dmytriyev performed the Second Cello Concerto by Dmitry Shostakovich. Volodymyr’s older brother, a wonderful and gifted musician, flew to Kyiv for the anniversary of his brother’s death. For many years he has been living and working in France as a cello section concertmaster of the Montpellier Orchestra. He also completed the eleven- year Lysenko School of Music, graduated from the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music, and performed in Yury Bashmet’s orchestra. The Shostakovich concerto perfectly conveys the sense of irreparable loss and the fragility and fleeting nature of life. An outstanding and mature musician, Oleksandr Dmytriyev performed a brilliant rendition of the author’s concept, bringing tears to the eyes of many listeners in the audience and musicians onstage. The last to perform was the Merited Artiste of Ukraine, mezzo soprano Maria Lypynska. She sang a cycle of Gustav Mahler songs based on the poetry of Felix Ruckert, “Songs about Dead Children.” This young soloist from the House of Chamber and Organ Music and student of Halyna Tuftina has a very beautiful, even, clear, and deep voice. Mahler’s songs were a sad yet dazzling finale of the concert.
Still, the main performer of the night was the orchestra, whose members perform simply. Hidden behind this seeming simplicity are the experience and grandeur of the orchestra. The musicians amazed the audience with the wonderful sound of numerous solos and ensembles of wind instruments, and the even and noble timbre of string instruments. The musicians skillfully convey all the diversity, depth, intellectuality, emotionality, contrast, and subtlety of every detail. Without a doubt, much of the credit for this goes to the chief conductor. The National Symphony Orchestra has often been directed by other gifted conductors, both young and experienced. Yet, none of them make the orchestra sound as mature and perfect as Sirenko does.
The maestro shared his thoughts after the concert.
“Volodymyr Dmytriyev was a bright and very gentle person, and a brilliant musician. When he died, his father Kostiantyn said rightly, ‘In achieving humility, he acquitted himself honorably,’ a nearly impossible feat in our artistic milieu. During his grave illness we saw how he longed to remain in the orchestra and feel like an artist. Above all, I feel extreme sorrow: a young, humble, and gifted person has passed away. It’s only been three days since we returned from the tour, but we knew that we had to perform this concert. Without a single day of rest we began rehearsals for the soir О e in memory of Volodia.”
“Volodymyr Fedorovych, would you mind saying a few words about your latest concert tour and sharing your impressions of the concerts, audiences, and conductors?”
“We gave twenty-eight concerts in Italy and visited as many towns. The orchestra was directed by two chief conductors (Niccolo Juliani and I) and several guest conductors: Portnoi, a very experienced and respectable conductor, world-famous conductor Olmi, and several novice conductors. The amazing fact about Italy is not that concert halls are always packed and everyone applauds loudly, but that Italians are very devoted to classical music. Almost every town the size of our district center has an opera house that was not razed to the ground during the war or blown up by the Bolsheviks or Mussolini. This cultural tradition has passed from generation to generation, and is coupled with a tremendous love for their music, to their Neapolitan songs and Verdi. The net result is very positive for culture, which is something that we have lost, unfortunately.”