About this Recording
8.573333 - SKORYK, M.: Carpathian Concerto / Diptych / Violin Concerto No. 7 / Cello Concerto (Pilatyuk, Kazakov, Odessa Philharmonic, Earle)

Myroslav Skoryk (b. 1938)
Dytynstvo • Diptych • Caprice No. 19 • Violin Concerto No. 7 • Melody • Cello Concerto • Spanish Dance • Carpathian Concerto


Myroslav Skoryk was born on 13 July 1938 in Lviv (Ukraine). He entered the Lviv Music School in 1945, but two years later both he and his parents were deported to Siberia and were not allowed to return home until 1955. He was subsequently accepted at Lviv Conservatory, where he studied composition with Stanyslav Liudkevych, Roman Simovych and Adam Soltys. During 1960–64 he studied at the Moscow Conservatory, taking the doctoral course with Dmitri Kabalevsky, and upon graduation joined the faculty of the Lviv Conservatory then, in 1967, that of the Kiev Conservatory. Following the death of Borys Lyatoshynsky in 1968, he became one of Ukraine’s most notable professors of composition—his students have included such prominent figures as Yevhen Stankovych, Ivan Karabyts, Oleh Kyva, Vadim Ilyin and Osvaldas Balakauskas. He holds the chair in composition at the Lysenko Music Academy in Lviv, and teaches composition at the National Music Academy in Kiev. In 1968 he was selected as the secretary of the Ukrainian Union of Composers then, in 1988, he became head of the Lviv branch of this organization. He is the winner of the prestigious Shevchenko Prize and holds the title People’s Artist of Ukraine. In spring 2011 he became artistic director of the National Opera in Kiev. He currently resides in Ukraine, though he travels frequently to perform and lecture in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia.

Skoryk’s sizable output embraces biblical and philosophical worlds, classical and the avant-garde, Carpathian melodies and jazz rhythms, theatre and the academy; also the worlds of teacher and artist, and of contemporary society. The widest range of musical characters—from delicate lyricism to tragic and mournful soundscapes—can be perceived in his music. In his innovative scores from the 1960s, new ideas and searches brought him to a musical crossroads where academic forms, classical genres and folk tradition were intertwined with contemporary techniques, popular music and jazz idioms. All his compositions, from the biblical opera Moses, via sacred pieces to music inspired by national literature, traditional sources and popular romances, together with jazz improvisations and music for children, convey his stated and ongoing concerns with an elevated spirituality and universal beauty.

During the mid-1960s Skoryk became interested in the revival of what became known as the ‘new folklorism’ in Ukraine, with its reliance on ethnographic sources as the base for a national artistic movement. His music through to the 1970s is very much wedded to folklore, especially that of the Carpatho-Ukrainian tradition, and its first mature realization was in music to the film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, from which was derived his first popular success The Hutsul Triptych (1965)—whose first movement is Childhood. Upper strings and woodwind share a whimsical idea with distinctive harmonic and rhythmic inflections, becoming livelier as the brass enter. The central section features a plaintive melody for woodwind over undulating strings and pizzicato accompaniment, before the brass re-enter for an animated conclusion.

Music for strings has featured prominently in Skoryk’s output, with one of the most striking recent examples being Diptych (1993). The first part commences in a mood of searching pathos as a poignant theme is shared between upper and lower strings, the mood gradually intensifying as the harmonies become more chromatic and the textures more intricate. The second part (4:09) is initially more energetic, though its initial driving rhythms soon find contrast in the more equivocal theme which follows. Towards its mid-point the music takes on a more sensuous manner, though the earlier energy returns prior to an evanescent close.

Numerous composers have made arrangements of Paganini’s Caprices for solo violin, though few have tackled all 24 of the series. Skoryk’s transcription of the Nineteenth Caprice (2003) reinforces the music’s humorous streak, brass (notably trombone glissandi) and percussion abetting the overtones of slapstick while the music heads breezily on to its spirited ending.

Skoryk’s First Violin Concerto (1969) was one of the composer’s breakthrough works in its melding of traditional and popular idioms, and he has since written six further such pieces. The Seventh Violin Concerto (2009) packs a great deal of activity into its single movement. Pounding strokes on bass-drum underpin the soloist’s initial entry, its headstrong character variously commented on and challenged by the orchestra as tension mounts prior to a brief climax. The soloist ushers in a more expressive section in the company of solo woodwind over a halting backdrop on strings, and this slowly winds down to an uncertain pause before the soloist reignites proceedings with charging figuration which, in turn, arrives at a wistful melody on oboe that the soloist transforms into a hectic dance. The ensuing cadenza has an almost improvisatory feel, the soloist indulging in several virtuoso gestures which at length muster a rousing orchestral response. What follows is subdued and melancholic as soloist and strings unfold a musing dialogue that is cut short by an explosive orchestral conclusion.

It was with his Melody for strings (1981) that Skoryk created a piece which propelled him beyond specialist circles to the forefront of Ukrainian music. As the title suggests, this is a study in flowing melody with some notably attractive exchanges between strings. A central passage hints at more restive emotions, but the close sees a return of the initial pensiveness.

The Cello Concerto (1983) saw Skoryk win the coveted Shevchenko Prize, and this succinct yet eventful single-movement piece remains one of his most representative works. Against a hushed backdrop on strings, the soloist unfolds its ruminative melodic line which gradually intensifies as the accompaniment becomes more complex. Despite a sudden orchestral crash, the mood remains inward though the orchestra soon comes into its own with a more forceful response. A brief unaccompanied passage then leads to more abrasive exchanges, at the end of which the soloist is left musing uncertainly against an evocative orchestral backdrop. The soloist rises to the top of the cello’s compass as the music builds with effort to a brutal response from percussion, soon launching a more determined section in which incisive rhythmic exchanges are traded angrily, though this is itself frustrated as the soloist returns to its initial rumination. Activity low in the woodwind now gradually spreads across the entire orchestra, presaging a spare cadenza then an outburst that leaves the soloist isolated prior to a brutal closing gesture.

As its title suggests, The Stone Host (1973) is concerned with the life and ultimate fall of Don Juan. Yet little of this is evident in the suite’s Spanish Dance, where, over a lilting backdrop, strings unfold a capricious melody which soon takes on greater energy as rhythmic animation increases. The initial mood is then reasserted before the piece heads on to its resolute ending.

The Carpathian Concerto (1972) remains among Skoryk’s most engaging works in making resourceful use of the modern orchestra. Plaintive woodwind have a reticent dialogue which at length alights on solo bassoon, its sanguine tones soon provoking a hectic response from the whole orchestra. Lower strings then initiate a nonchalant and audibly folk-inflected idea that soon gains impetus, the tension mounting apace as the music heads to a plangent climax from brass and strings. Unison horns now emerge into the foreground, as does the cimbalom then viola as a fragmented yet eventful series of exchanges ensues. At length all of the forces come together for a brief climax—after which, the solo violin launches a strident dance that draws in all of the strings and percussion as the work heads towards its forceful culmination.

Richard Whitehouse
(with thanks to Virko Baley and Lesya Oleinik)

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