Sunday 22 March 2020, 7.30pm
Ukrainian composer, pianist and 'continuous music' pioneer Lubomyr Melnyk makes a welcome return to OTO following the 2018 release of his album, Fallen Trees. Not only regarded as one of the world’s fastest concert pianists, his compositions also carry listeners to new realms.
Despite the autumnal hint in its title, there’s little suggestion of him slowing down. Having received critical acclaim and co-headlining the prestigious Royal Festival Hall as part of the Erased Tapes 10th anniversary celebrations, after many years his audience is now both global and growing. The composer is finally gaining a momentum in his career that matches the vibrant, highly active energy of his playing.
Cascades of notes, canyons and rivers of sound: there’s something about his music that channels the natural world at its most awe-inspiring. In Fallen Trees the connection with the environment continues, taking its cue from a long rail journey Melnyk made through Europe. Glancing out of the window as the train passed through a dark forest, he was struck by the sight of trees that had recently been felled. “They were glorious,” he says. “Even though they’d been killed, they weren’t dead. There was something sorrowful there, but also hopeful.” That sense of sadness touched by optimism infuses the album, too: rarely has Melnyk made music so shot through with melancholy and regret, but which sounds so rapt, even radiant.