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It’s at all times a pleasure for the discerning music lover to expertise the artistry of world class musicians for the primary time. This week, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s viewers was handled to not one, however two sensational TSO debuts of Ukrainian artists, conductor Oksana Lyniv and pianist Illia Ovcharenko.
In 2021, Lyniv grew to become the primary lady to conduct on the Bayreuth Pageant, that venerable Richard Wagner shrine, the place she led Der fliegende Holländer. She can be the music director on the Teatro Communale di Bologna, making her the primary lady appointed to such a task in an Italian opera home.
Ovcharenko lept to fame as winner of the 2022 version of the Honens Competitors, which hew received on the younger age of 21. I had the pleasure of listening to him stay final July, within the opening night time of the Toronto Summer season Music Pageant, the place he performed works by Mozart and Ukrainian composer Levko Revutsky. He made an enormous impression with an impressive show of bravura method and unusual sensitivity and lyricism.
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Earlier than the beginning of the principle program, the early birds amongst us had been handled to a pre-concert opener on the mainstage. The Ukrainian Artwork Music Undertaking introduced a brief however beautiful program of 9 stunning Ukrainian songs, evocatively sung by Canadians singers Andrea Ludwig (mezzo soprano) and Benjamin Butterfield (tenor). They had been ably supported by collaborative pianist Steven Philcox. This pleasing presentation actually put everybody within the temper for extra.
The live performance that adopted was memorable. Maestra Lyniv led the TSO within the Canadian premiere of Maria’s Metropolis, by Ukrainian composer Zoltan Almashi. It’s an ode to – and sure a lament for – the Ukrainian metropolis of Mariupol, left in ruins by the Russian invasion. Evocatively scored for string orchestra, it lasts lower than ten minutes, and combines ethereal quietude with a sure edgy steeliness that underscores a spirit of resilience and defiance. Heartfelt and emotional, it’s a bit that I wish to hear once more.
This was adopted by the Liszt Piano Concerto no. 1, carried out by Illia Ovcharenko. I used to be impressed by the proverbial “large method,” which the younger Ukrainian pianist has in spades, however the high quality of his taking part in extends far past method. His type consists of a felicitous mixture of pianistic bravura and noteworthy maturity and emotional depth, uncommon in somebody so younger. The viewers gave Ovcharenko big applause, and he rewarded the enthusiastic crowd with a stunning rendition of Schubert’s Litanei. All in all, a efficiency to savour and treasure.
After intermission got here Dvorak Symphony No. 8, a bit impressed by Bohemian folks tunes, marked by a heart-warming melding of exuberance and quiet allure. To my ears, the brass appeared extra outstanding than I remembered. Maestra Lyniv’s take was decidedly extroverted, providing a surfeit of vitality, matched by her extravagant gestures, drawing wonderful sounds from the TSO. In my 65 years of attending symphonic live shows, she’s the one conductor I’ve ever seen dash from the wing to the rostrum!
After such a spectacular present, the home leapt to its ft for a number of well-deserved rounds of ovation. There’s nothing fairly like an exquisite night on the live performance corridor. Let’s hope that the Toronto Symphony will convey again Oksana Lyniv and Illia Ovcharenko as quickly as attainable.
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Almashi: Maria’s Metropolis; Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1; Dvořák: Symphony No. 8 Toronto Symphony Orchestra: Oksana Lyniv, conductor; Illia Ovcharenko, piano. Roy Thomson Corridor, Nov. 16, 2023.