However, to say that the Conservatory’s Small Hall hosted a concert of romances created by the great Ukrainian composer would mean saying nothing. It was a true musical drama about two young people in love. The man was destined to become a master of Ukrainian music, and the woman would remain his muse for many years after.
Two yellow roses and photos from a family album lie on the table. The dramatic background of the whole rendition consisted of 20-year-old Borys Liatoshynsky’s letters recited by Mariana Kopytsa with great inspiration. They were letters addressed to his sweetheart, permeated with the tenderness and suffering caused by their forced separation. As such, they are romantic lyrical masterpieces. Also, they reveal painful problems stemming from the very creative process, humiliating dependence on what all those cultural commissars might have to say. Recitals were followed by romances, whose music and lyrics brightly and full-bloodedly reflect the composer’s inner condition during those devastating years. And so one can sense in these songs the apparent presence of the cold image of Death, and tragic texts from Heinrich Heine, Constantine Balmont, Maurice Maetterlinck, Paul Verlaine, Igor Severianin, and Ivan Bunin obviously echo the composer’s depression.
It was thus that a surprisingly solid picture was built during the concert, with a certain leitmotif. The dramatic aspect was obvious: love, calamitous age perceived in Hamlet’s way, responding to it with naked nerve endings, and hope, rather than death, of which the master writes in the last letter to his wife.
The performers succeeded in conveying the whole range of passions permeating the romances, from the magic lyricism of “Mourning Spring” (Heine’s lyrics) to the blood-chilling presence of death in “Leaves Forlornly Rustling” (Pleshcheyev’s lyrics), brilliantly performed by Iryna Dotsenko (soprano) and Hennady Kapka (tenor).
Interestingly, eight of the fourteen romances included in the concert had never been previously performed or published in Ukraine, kept as manuscripts dating back over 75 years. A tremendous amount of restoration work had to be done on the music for the concert. It lasted over half a year. Fortunately, much of the original music has survived the ravages of time, including extremely interesting marginal notes in the author’s hand. They made it possible to ascertain dates and even time (e.g., “2 a.m.,” “3 a.m.”...). This was actually what prompted the authors of the program to unite it under the title “Night Songs.” Finally, the good news was that a CD would be released with the author rendition of “Night Songs” and with music precisely the way it was written by the composers, Borys Liatoshynsky’s pupils.