The “Kyiv” fest, whose life story began with a successful performance of Andrii Ostapenko, is now a star attraction for guitar aficionados. Its extensive programs have been full of various interesting things, such as exhibitions of instruments, launchings of publications, competitions of Ukrainian and foreign young guitarists, and world stars’ master classes.
The latest three-day marathon presented a broad picture of guitar music performed this year by a “triumvirate” of participants from Spain, Italy, and Ukraine. The famous Francisco Bernier, who stole the spotlight in Kyiv the year before the last, has again confirmed his high artistic class with his opening and solo performances as well as a master class. A filigree technique of performance (particularly of Johann Sebastian Bach’s oeuvres), the subtlest nuances of guitar sounds, and a rich timbre palette in playing the music of Isaac Albeniz and Francisco Tarrega guaranteed the Spanish virtuoso a rousing welcome from our music lovers.
This is the first time Giovanni Puddu, a widely-known Italian winner of many prestigious guitar tournaments, drew applause in Kyiv. His solo recital was a real gem in a major concert cycle, Suono Italiano (“Italian Sound”), now underway at the National Philharmonic Society.
Puddu enchanted the audience with his romantic charisma. Avoiding show-off effects and unjustified sound augmentation, the master of delicate nuances established in the hall the atmosphere of a sincere dialog between the soloist and his like-minded audience. He managed to gradually immerse the listeners into his own world of gentle and lyrical feelings, trembling and gracious sounds, and to capture the audience with his fantastic virtuosity in the second part of the recital. In between the numbers, the maestro resorted to small verbal interludes, and when he emotionally said “Viva Ucraina!” he immediately received a thunderous ovation.
Incidentally, the itineraries of Italian and Ukrainian musicians often cross in some miraculous way. For example, Giovanni Puddu’s brother Luigi cooperates with the word-famous Ukrainian violin virtuoso Vadym Brodsky, a pupil of the Odesa-born David Oistrakh. Brodsky is one of the few musicians, winners of the International Violin Competition in Genoa, who gained the right to play the Guarneri del Gesu violin that belonged to the legendary Niccolo Paganini. It will be recalled that our famous compatriot Bohodar Kotorovych, founder of the Ukrainian violin performance school, still remains the only non-Italian violinist who was granted the honor to play this instrument twice outside Italy.
The Ukrainian accent of this guitar fest was quite noticeable at the closing ceremony, when Andrii Ostapenko played “Spanish Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra” by the Kharkiv-based composer Mykola Stetsiun. By the fest’s tradition, the soloist was accompanied by the National Philharmonic Society’s Academic Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine skillfully conducted by Ihor Palkin.
Nicola Franco Balloni, director of the Italian Institute of Culture in Ukraine, who has worked for 12 years in this country in the field of culture, thus shared his impressions of the festival with The Day: “In Italy, there are a lot of various guitar festivals and competitions, as well as schools and conservatories that teach to play the guitar. Today, our country has a pleiad of globally-known guitarists, such as the Neapolitan virtuoso Aniello Desiderio, Carlo Marchione, and others. Let me remind you that we were co-organizers of Kyiv’s guitar festival from the very outset. Since then, we have been annually inviting out leading artistes to take part in concert programs or sit on the jury of the biennial guitar contest. The high level of this event compels us to uphold this fruitful tradition.”