The Violin Phenomenon of Oleh Krysa

An outstanding Ukrainian violinist Oleh Krysa (the pupil of the pedagogue Kostyiantyn Mykhailov and the legendary professor David Oistrakh) keeps fascinating and astonishing the world musical community with his performing mastery for more than half a century now. His surprisingly large repertoire ranges from violin masterpieces of ancient Italian heritage, the Baroque, Vienna classicists, Romantic  composers, the brightest samples of the XXth century music to the most significant works by Ukrainian composers. The interpretation of chamber music, large concert-symphonic forms and violin miniatures are exceptionally close to him. Everything he does is marked for stylistic perfection, refinement, daintiness and accuracy in artistic musical mastery. He performs with best conductors and orchestras of the world, and his unsurpassed partner was his wife – an outstanding pianist Tetyana Chekina. The posters of most celebrated concert halls in the world, reviews, wide-range musical discography testify to the inexhaustible potential of the musician.

Oleh Krysa demonstrated the grandeur of his artistic personality in an unbelievable musical marathon “The History of the Violin Concerto” held in Lviv in October and December 2015, which showed  the evolution of this genre for the last 300 years. This project consisted of four “Philharmonic Evenings” and numbered the performances of 12 most representative samples of Concerto for violin and orchestra. It is difficult even to name a musician who would dare implement this project on such a high level, for such a short period time.

The first performance (October 17, 2015) comprised exceptional works ranging from the Baroque to Classical period.

In his Concerto in E major for violin and orchestra by J. S. Bach Oleh Krysa revealed exquisite baroque stylistics, meticulous lightness of stroke, majestic sacral cantilena in the second part and brilliant virtuosity in the finale.

The next was a unique opus by W. A. Mozart – Concerto in A major for violin and orchestra KV219, аn unsurpassed combination of virtuosity and melodiousness in the manner of Italian cantilena, with the domineering refined differential technique of the bow. Here the soloist was brilliant at classical articulation and fine strokes, at beautiful melisma and lyrical poetics of the second part; and in the final rondo the listeners were captivated and charmed by lightness, weightlessness, elegancy, improvisation, unique picturesqueness and sudden diversity between the refrain and episodes.

A brilliant masterpiece by L. van Beethoven, Concerto in D major for violin and orchestra op. 61closed the program. It is a large-scale symphonic work with a tense emotional tone, where masterly brilliance does not foreshadow the depth of the philosophic conception and lyrical nature of the solo part. Here, the novelty is in the combination of classical and romantic features, where the role of the minor is foregrounded with an overall major tendency. The soloist Oleg Krysa recreated the magnitude of this work, the depth and richness of images, the thematic intensity. By this he proved that the essence of performing is not any window-dressing glamour but exposure of the main idea through a dialogue between the solo instrument and the orchestra. The audience admired and was delighted by performing complicated F. Kreisler’s “Cadence” to the first part, in particular the episode, when simultaneous sounding of the Main and Secondary parts overlap.

The performing partners of Oleh  Krysa in this concert were chamber orchestra “Lviv Virtuosos”, an accompanist Volodymyr Duda, and conductor  Sergiy Burko.

The second stage of the Violin Marathon was concerto performance of Romantic epoch.

Concerto in G-minor for violin and orchestra by M. Brukh in brilliant performance by Oleh Krysa charmed listeners with its romantic elation, melodic sincerity, especially in the Second part with its pathetics, pathos, exquisite presentation of the soloist part with effective technical modes in the finale.

Concerto in E-minor for violin and orchestra by F. Mendelsohn-Bartoldy continued musical art festival by Oleh Krysa who exceptionally gracefully and perfectly showed masterly ingenuity and glamour aimed at revealing lyrical, dramatic, fanciful and contemplative images. This should be especially noted in Oleh Krysa’s interpretation of the second part – Andante with its unique beautiful sounding of cantilena. The main theme is characterized by lilting, wide melodious line. The sounding of the solo violin was charming when there appeared a new intonation theme in diphthong presentation at the background of tremor figuration, which played the role of harmonic accompaniment. In the culmination part with the appearance of octaves the soloist reached the peak of sounding which introduced pathetic coloring. Anxiety gradually disappears and the main theme – Andante sounds more transparently and contemplatively in the solo violin. By focusing your attention on perfect sounding of cantilena with its unique vibratto in lyric episodes, Oleh Krysa creates conditions for bright contrastive perception of the final part. Feeling perfectly the musical image, he elegantly and gracefully performs the poetic lyrical transition (Allegretto non troppo) to the finale.

The finale, rondo-sonata (Allegro molto vivace) Oleh Krysa performs in graceful, joyful, convivial, elated manner inherent of him. The audience was amazed at light, magical, and skillful command of the right hand in bow strokes.

The triumphant completion of the second phase in the cycle “History of the Violin Concerto” was marked for performing the famous Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major by J. Brahms. This is a kind of the center in the whole genre of the violin concert, its most perfect sample, especially the first part – Allegro non troppo. In this composition the violin part abounds in technical difficulties, which are not for the masterly sake only, but appear inherently from the musical conception of the composition. They refer mainly to the left hand of the violinist: double notes, long interval leaps, attaca of sounds in high register etc. In the first part the famous Oleh Krysa by his performance demonstrated bright example of Brahms’ sonata Allegro, where the intensification of violin expressive means went hand in hand with preserving its academic, classical, functional style.  Sharpness of intonation, harmony, texture, form, contrasts, ideal balance between rhythmic activity and thinning of the sound, laconic and complete thought, absence of general episodes, pervasive development of this composition in its interpretation are impressive. One may observe epic strength, poetic lyrics, dramatic pathetics, and prominence of contrasts in his convincing performance. There is a very interesting range of stylistic associations in the soloist’s interpretational conception. It is the sounding of dense accords in the solo violin which alludes audiences’ imagination to Bach's Chaconne; rhythmic energy, prevalence of fourths intonations remind us of L. van Beethoven. Besides, it should be mentioned that the lyrical element in the violin romantic subjective expression is becoming here Oleh Krysa’s inner driving force of dramatic development. All dramatic impulses are prepared by means of deep processes in the sphere of lyrics. A beautiful theme in the soloist’s secondary part, the real Brahms’ “theme of love” becomes the main goal in his performance. It balances between reality and sensory illusiveness; it wishes to disappear, vanish into flying motives (sounds) of the violin in his hands. In this composition Oleh Krysa pays special attention to the excellence of the left hand technique. Saturated use of accentuated wide leaps, double notes and different accords in fact focus on expression and transparency, rather than virtuosity as the end in itself. His cantilena stands out due to its sincere expressiveness, it is delicate and transparent in high register, melodiously lilting in the middle, deep and pompous in the low register. An extremely varied solo part reveals wide range of expressive and technical possibilities of the instrument. The violin equals the orchestra in representing and developing all the thematic material. They “diverge” only in juxtaposing the epic variant of the orchestra on the one hand, and lyrical “vocal” of the thematic material on the other.

The performance of Cadence was spectacular, meaningful and exceptionally close to the original.

Oleh Krysa’s violin dominates completely in Adagio, but its introduction is delayed by full sounding of the theme by the solo oboe, which creates an effect of “alienation” and contributes to even greater expressiveness of cantilena. The ornamental variation of the soloist’s theme makes it exquisitely delicate and improvisationally free which leads to natural transition to the middle part, where figurations become even more lyrical in its format and afterwards more dramatic in its expression. The ongoing line of performing delicate figurations continues in the reprise where it starts as a duet of the oboe and the domineering violin. Combination of simplicity and elegance, wide melodic breath and clear prominence of form with detailing, unity of intonations, with ongoing development of motives reach the top of perfection in Adagio, which is peculiar of Oleh Krysa’s performing manner.

The tradition of consolidating life energy, embodied in folk dance, can be found in the final parts of instrumental concert since the times of J. S. Bach and A. Vivaldi. J. Brahms’ violin masterpiece presented by Oleh Krysa shows it best of all in the finale Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace and becomes the most joyful and powerful presentation. The sounding of his violin is inseparably connected with the expression and passion of Hungarian melodies. The fiery vigor of the dance in the final part, realized by rhythmic and structural organization is not devoid of laconic and perfectly clear form. The pressure of energy in the secondary part, emphasized by violin octaves, intensifies triumphant heroic character of music at the background of modest, delicate lyrical music of the central episode which resembles peculiar correlation with the second part, especially the episode of the violin and oboe duet. “Chromatic motive” from Adagio scudded suddenly in the coda, where the main theme undergoes Brahms’ favourite variational metrorythmic modifications. Epic strength of tutti reminds us also of the first part. Adagio and the final part naturally complete it, widening the “world panorama” to the all embracing world in Oleh Krysa’s interpretation.

Lviv Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra with its conductor Serhiy Horovets helped Oleh Krysa to carry out and play these outstanding symphony concerts.

Analyzing J. Brahms’ performance of the concert for violin and orchestra, it is worth pointing out that the most impressive and close to the original Cadence of the prominent violinist J. Joachim was made during the creation of the very concert, since the author referred to Brahms himself for advice. Cadence laconically covers almost the whole thematic material of the first part, it delicately and naturally reflects the sense and mood of this composition. In Oleh Krysa’s interpretation it is marked for its exquisite mastery in terms of violin technique and peculiarly perfect presentation.

At the third stage of this unforgettable violin “marathon”, held on December 3 2015 such works were performed: Concerto No 1 in D major op. 19 for violin and orchestra by S. Prokofiev, Concerto No 3 for violin and chamber orchestra by A. Schnittke and Concerto for violin and orchestra in D major, op. 35 by P.Tchaikovsky.

The first concerto for violin and orchestra op. 19 by S. Prokofiev is one of the most prominent and innovative musical compositions of the XX century. It is a three-part concert with an unusual order of the parts:  the first and the third parts are rich in moderate and melodic tempers, while the middle part is a rapid and masterly scherzo. The general conception of the composition is lyrical because of the main part which is repeated many times, opens and finishes the first part, and then sounds in the resolution at the very finale of the concert. By his performance of the composition, Oleh Krysa reproduced lyrical melodies of S. Prokofiev`s early compositions in an exclusively elegant manner.  It is gorgeous with its marvelous peculiar beauty in his interpretation.  Psychological tension and intensity is not inherent in his performance, and it has to be so; it is very melodious, exquisitely simple, a melodic line of the progress is very clear and precise. He uncovers the nature of a violin with an utmost effect, solo is not contrasted with an orchestra but merges with it putting an emphasis on a timbre. The soloist finds a sounding, which corresponds with a poetic and dreamy pattern, thinks by the “long melody”, perfectly hearing the last notes in ties which are binding units in a phrase. A sheer admiration is aroused not only by his exceptional vibration and a change of a bow, but also by distinct and dynamic distribution of melody progress, insonification of every note, especially the culminating ones.

The first part of the cycle is based on abrupt change of contrasting images. A masterly liaison with encrusted trills and modulating passages creates a contrast to the main part. The temper of the secondary theme is fabulous, fantastic and scherzic.  How exquisitely, skillfully and naturally O. Krysa performed it, especially in the episodes where a whimsical rhythm appears, where grace notes, chromatic scales, accents, acute but elegant strokes of light vibration of sounds are found.

In their development themes are transformed and acquire sarcastic and grotesque features. The development starts with fanfares (fourths-fifths) and gradually changes into an energetic, throbbing folk scene with “buffoonery» supporting voices in the orchestra, pizz. a violin is an imitation of a balalaika. Here, the soloist Oleh Krysa masterly creates gradations of intensification using different technical methods from wide diapason passages to double notes. Dynamics and tempo are being steadily increased, and what an acutely marked but not “dull” stroke near a frog he has. It is worth mentioning, what skillful elements of hidden polyphony he demonstrated, without excessive forcing of the sound but with an exclusively accurate intonation! The soloist demonstrated a unique command of a bow during the transition to the slow tempo and tranquil vibration on the P-dynamics in the episode with the violin solo meno mosso, after the impetuous development. In the cut reprise the lyrical mood is present again, only the main theme sounds, which is performed by flutes in a slower tempo than the exposition, and the violin performs con sordino tender passages in the higher register. Oleh Krysa reproduced them with a small section at the end of the bow, imperceptibly changing stroke of legato into détaché (double stroke) and vice versa in the pp-nuance. Crystal clear intonation was just fascinating, especially it holds true for semi-tones in the high register. The coda sounded as a miracle of the instrumental colouring and as a manifestation of profound poetic sense.

The second part of the concert Vivacissio, a magnificent scherzo is a five-part rondo, perpetum mobile in a way. Energetic, accurately rhythmical melody composed with chromatic sequences swiftly goes high, light and rapid passages, change of pizz. and arco, flageolets to the accompaniment of flutes and string instruments, which remotely resembles the sound of balalaika. The soloist Oleh Krysa with an incredible passion of a youth played with a stiff bow (middle-frog) almost at the same place. Passages were performed by tender fingers, small section of the bow, the whole thematics sounded concisely, very accurately, rhythmically, and intonationally  meticulously. In this short theme S. Prokofiev used a plenty of different acute strokes: accents, dots, spiccatos, marcatos, ricochets, pizz. with arco, shorts ligatures with dots and accents. It should be mentioned, that the main theme is a joke, and episodes are already a sharp irony. How colourfully, perfectly, and convincingly it sounded!  The first episode is sul G, a stroke staccato marcatissimo is performed near the frog, and distant interval bounces were performed by the soloist with perfect accuracy. The second episode is sul ponyicello, con tutta forza. The theme is of quite mechanical structure, nevertheless, it was reproduced by Oleh Krysa with an utmost clear phrasing. The soloist demonstrated genuine artistic virtuosity of a violin in the whole scherzo, that is in constant motion.

In the finale, moderato brings us back to the world of lyrics. It sounded moderately and vitally. The soloist showed a great mastery while developing the melodic line, as it has too wide diapason (the length of the last theme is 23 bars). Oleh Krysa represented here unbelievably long phrase-line, having composed it logically, and having brought it to the culmination of the finale. The thematic material sounded smoothly, without bow changes being noticed, transitions performed by the left hands were fairly melodious. The violin scales sounded perfectly and vividly (it was Prokofiev`s irony on the esthetics of that time), the theme of ostinato by tuba, double basses, and violoncellos sounds against their background. The real symphony development adds special dramatic effect to this culmination.  The main theme of the third part by the flute solo is combined in a coda with the main theme of the first part by the violin, and the thematic arc unites the whole concert. The most important in the coda is an exquisite (elaborated) timbre of the sound of the exceptional intonation reproduced by the soloist, which corresponded with the elegant temper, inherent harmony and poetic contemplation. 

The following work, chosen by Oleh Krysa in this program was the Third concert for violin and chamber Orchestra by A. Shnittke dedicated to Oleh Kagan. Emotionally oriented it correlates with a number of works that belong to the genre of a memorial, mournful and tragic perception of life makes the basis of its content. In this sense, the opus in Shnittke’s creative activity may be equated to his “Requiem”, “Piano quintet”, along with D. Schostakovych’s later works (in particular his Viola sonata) and P. Tchaikovsky's Sixth symphony.  These parallels are not accidental.  The tragedy is extremely prominent in the third concert, hence the peculiarities of composition and drama. As opposed to progressive “rising” drama (e.g. in Concerto grosso №1, in Quintet), in the third concert one is more likely to encounter the “declining” line of development with the tempo and dramatic slowdown towards the very end. Three parts of the cycle (composition of the concert is of the “poem” form relevant to romantic tradition which combines features of sonata and the cycle) constitute three stages of “drama”: the 1st part  (sonata exposition) -  exposition of an event, the 2nd part (development) – the event itself and the 3rd part, the final (reprise of sonata form) – epilogue, a closing event.  At the same time, the 3 rd part, which has no “events”, turns out to be the most prominent and conclusive in terms of drama. Although it lasts approximately as long as the 1st part, the finale seems to be more drawling due to absence of contrasts found in the 1st part, this is a farewell which one wishes to last forever. There are three drama spheres in the concert. Two of them are antagonistic on which the drama of the composition is based; the third one appears as a result of this contrast. Having created a remarkably elegant dialogue of the soloist and orchestra Oleh Krysa has built an exceptional interpretative conception, which according to romantic tradition may be decoded as a conflict of an individual consciousness and the hostile surrounding. The conflict of the leading spheres operates on three huge levels.  The first one contains the soloist’s cadence and the chapter which exhibits wind instruments, this is an exposition of the event (it can be called an introduction of the event); compositionally this is the main theme of sonata exposition. The second level – the whole exposition (the 1st part of the cycle) the first stage of the event, a conflict of main drama spheres which leads to the emergence of the third one. The third level – the whole cycle where after the exposition of the main conflict in the 1st part there is a stage, an event (counterevent), which leads to the climax (the 2nd part – development) and an outcome, epilogue (the 3rd part - reprise-coda). The first clash of antagonistic spheres takes place in the introduction, the solo cadence of the violin is followed by the chapter where only the wind instruments take part. The soloist Oleh Krysa presented the timbre of the solo violin in an exclusively colorful manner, which is associated with the human voice, individual, personal. In this case the quarter tone trill (as a matter of fact, vibrato) in a combination with highly expressive chromatic motives makes his violin sound extremely nervous and emotionally naked. The timbre of wind instruments which interrupt passionate violin chant creates a completely different coloring of music. The antagonistic interrelation  of two contrasting timbre groups is notably strong here especially of the solo violin and wind instruments, this is a drama and composition technique. Thirteen wind instruments (apropos they were foregrounded on the stage) are contrasted with the string quartet, which starts playing on the edge of the  2nd and 3rd parts  and then fully participates  in the 3rd one.  Until this moment only the solo violin of Oleh Krysa has to “restrain the pressure” of the wind group and now the dramatic tension has reached its climax – the aching, trembling voice of the violin and the four octave dead unison of  bass wind instruments. It is worth marking how the soloist reproduced the smooth, well-rounded line of violin cantilena, he has clearly verified “geometric” acquisition of harmonic space by the wind group which spreads vertically. On the one hand there are critical individualization, emotional expressiveness and on the other dispassionate objectivity. The stream of sounds, that has splashed out like an ardent call, faces an impenetrable wall, impossible to ease. Living and dead, life and death, an endless and probably unsolvable problem.  After saturation with dramatic events, highly chromatic material of the main and supportive parts, everything suddenly dies away and in this silence highlighted by melancholic French horn pedal one can hear hardly audible voice of the violin. Oleh Krysa’s remarkable violin sound has created such a strong and unexpected contrast that this theme in his performance has turned into the center of exposition. The melody is critically simple, the motives spread symmetrically, separated by pauses. The solo violin theme sounds as in the opening cadence, though in terms of genre it looks here absolutely different, this is not an expressive chant but a pure, nearly “childish”, half voice imitation. By his rhythmic will the soloist adds natural breath to the symmetrical expansion of motives-remarks. Exquisite plainness, structural clarity and accuracy are main features of his violin sound and graceful interpretation, its natural beauty creates fragile feelings. Contrary to this, the sound of sullen choral of the wind group creates an emotional contrast.  There are no protesting tunes in the violin solo part, it is the “protagonist”, personification of individual consciousness. The soloist, Oleh Krysa fills the violin part with endless emotional saturation. He encloses so much wholehearted pain in its tense melody, so much ethically and aesthetically elevated feelings, that dramatic stresses shift, thus causing the feelings of ‘quantitative’, ‘qualitative’ and moral superiority.

The very first sounds of the 2nd part create a spooky world, its sonority is cold, dark, firm and sharp or incredibly, nearly endlessly, slow and emotional; it has no vivid human intonations or breath, no ‘air’. It is an inanimate machine which grinds everything around it, though it confronts individual consciousness, and this ‘heroism of despair’, a tragic peak, keeps you in a continuous tension. Three large chapters of the part represent different stages of a struggle, consistently and steadily approaching the catastrophe. The first one shows the sharpened version of the expositional correlation of spheres which keep their individuality, integrity and a specific independence from each other. The activity of each confronting sphere reaches its climax: chromatically sharpened violin lines are responded by wind instruments and their engrossing chromatic accords. This extreme polarization causes qualitative shift and that is where the spheres’ interaction starts and their intonations begin to merge. ‘Shadows’ and ‘counterparts’ of the violin’s voice appear in the wind section and they reproduce distorted intonations of the violin. At the same time, under the influence of the second sphere the violin’s part gets modified too, thus undergoing the process of intonational disintegration. The second chapter is transitional but extremely tragic. Figuratively the chant of introductory cadence emerges in the soloist Oleh Krysa’s part at the background of the second ‘crawling’ figures in the extremely high register. It becomes the most powerful factor of expressiveness in the context of developing intonational ‘depersonalization’. This craving for the impossible, quarter-tone trills have a very mournful and doomed sound. The third and the last stage of development is marked by the author’s note of scherzando relevant to the violin’s part. It is a crucial turning point where genre transformation takes place. Now it obtains the features of grotesque scherzo of the kind dance macabre. Against the background of chromatic accords repeated in a jazz asymmetric rhythm the violin’s tune appears to be distorted as if diabolically mocking and it is impossible to recognize the main and supportive themes in its sharp rhythmical pattern. This weird and mechanical dance seems to be a parody on the noble and bright world. Gradually the violin’s voice is absorbed my more active wind instruments. When the last attempt of the violin meaningful intoning occurs, the phrase sounds on a very high register on fortissimo which reminds of the introduction beginning but it suddenly cuts off on the high note. All of it was performed by Oleh Krysa so convincingly that impressed everybody by his expressive artistic mastery. After a pause an aleatoric culmination comes, a kind of an orchestra cadence as opposed to the soloist’s introductory cadence. The use of aleatoric technique allows to exceed the tension limit. The independence of each line, their intonation similarity, constant ‘mechanical’ repetition of figures, and as a result the general sound chaos in which everything is mixed and grinded, both animate and inanimate, the picture of complete ruin, disintegration and looming nightmare arises. The culmination seems endless due to its mechanical constancy. It was essential for the work’s figurative structure to create these sufferings and to go through all the circles of a hell as it was the only way for something new to appear out of the ruin. Only after such a nude, merciless, and painful picture the finale is perceived as light glimmering and becomes a natural closing link of the dramatic chain. Heavenly harmony and beauty arises after chaos and disintegration. This extraordinary feature of the theme creates gravity and necessity to reiterate which contributes to the rondo characteristics. The expositional themes take turns in the episodes which reminds of memories from the past. The overall atmosphere is elevated and solemn. Mourn rises to the level of high pathos, though devoid of exaltation, and in this sense the finale is a dramatic closing event, the catharsis zone. Harmony of reconciliation prevails in the finale, the conflict disappears, there are no antagonistic contrasts of the solo violin and wind instruments. This is laid in the main refrain. The second theme of the finale which sounds in the wind instruments is a slender and solemn chorus that accompanies and singles out the first solo-duet theme. In the coda wind instruments disappear altogether, and the last pre-coda theme-refrain sounds only by string instruments, turning it into an elevated chorale which exhausts itself in the coda. There are no more protesting notes in the violin part, and it completely merge with the string ensemble. Bright conciliatory remarks of the violin create a sense of catharsis and a sense of completeness, and development exhaustion. In the third Violin Concerto by A. Schnittke performed by Oleh Krysa one could not but feel a very individual and personal approach to revealing an extremely deep content.

The final work in the third stage of Oleh Krysa’s violin 'marathon' was Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major op.35 by P. I. Tchaikovsky that combines all of the most significant features of the virtuoso solo and symphony genres. The work begins with a recitative monologue of the violin, which is a peculiar lyrical epigraph. Introduction performed by Oleh Krysa sounded calm, thoughtful, magnificent, with bright expression (moderato assai). Scherzo main theme of the party performed by him became a real example of combining vigorous rhythmical and cantilena passages. Condensed emotional richness of the sound, elegant jewelry virtuosity of strokes, exquisite waltz, and majestic polonaise tunes, strong marching rhythms, scherzo-capricious turns and brilliant bravura cadence testify to the inexhaustive artistic and technical potential of the soloist. All of these, combined with craving for inherent ensemble with the orchestra, mutual co-nuancing create a touching, and magical interpretation.

     Canzonet is a lyrical intermezzo between the first monumental part and a great finale. Oleh Krysa played it in a very lilting and dreamy manner. His noble sounding of cantilena with extremely delicate vibration and unique drawing of the bow created both inspiration and elation.

     His performance of great and powerful finale caused general admiration. It was the finale with its dancing, joyful mood and slightly slowed down phrases full of elegant humour. The soloist’s wonderful performance of colorful artistic devices and skillful variety of stroke technique is worth marking.

     Partnership with Lviv Philharmony Academic Symphony Orchestra (conductor Taras Krysa) contributed to perfect interpretation of these works.

     The fourth stage held on December 10, 2015 which was a final one, was Oleg Krysa’s triumphant in the violin “marathon”. He performed the first Concerts for violin and orchestra by M. Skoryk, K. Shymanovsky and D. in the first violin Concerto by M.Skoryk, The imagery of the work includes excited Schostakovych.

     A recitative as a specific form of lyrics and expressive presentation appears recitation which tends to dramatic epic form, sincere lyricism, philosophical reflections and an ardent dance. From the first part, developed in “Carpathian” intonational sphere and carried out on an emotionally tense and high level, the soloist Oleh Krysa comes to the apotheosis of rhythm and motion in the finale. Everything in the concerto is subordinated to the elements of resolved, firm and dynamic motion. Three parts of the concerto (“Recitative”, “Intermezzo”, “Toccata”) are as if three forms of motion. In this work, instrumental recitative is perceived as a sort of “preamble” before an exciting musical narrative, where the stress is on the triplet, intonationally close to the epic form. At the background of sonorous rustle of string instruments played behind the stands, a vivid rant theme sounds which Oleh Krysa reproduces in the authentic manner of intonation, imitating folk expressive psalmody. The folk Lydian tune constitutes a key message of the first part, its stem and content. The soloist develops it gradually and the violin splits it into separate structural parts, presenting them in various intonational and rhythmic modifications and combinations with a special emphasis on the triplet. After the theme-thesis sounds in the soloist and instrumental parts of the orchestra, it gradually fades away. It then reincarnates and develops in the violin solo which is perceived as a protagonist’s monologue and makes an antithesis to the primary theme.

     In the first part, the range of sections take turns where melodies of instrumental character change with melodic recitation, accompanied by the author’s remark “rubato”. Reproducing the nature of the theme in this part, Oleh Krysa demonstrated bright mastery of a proper sharp, marked stroke martele and the ability to combine a short, abrupt detache with legato episodes.  He performed an extremely dramatic solo on the G string, which resembled folk tunes with distinctive trills, mordentes, improvisational rhythm etc.  He treated the recitation-monologue at the end of this part as a peculiar cadenza, though not devoid of skillful, artistic brilliance. The similar treatment of cadenza can be found in Violin concertos of many XXth  century composers such as: K. Hartman, E.Krzshenek, K.Weill, A.Casella, A.Berg, B.Britten, D. Schostakovych. 

     The second part of the Concerto (“Intermezzo”), where the lyrical element prevails, is composed on the basis of an antiphon: distinct phrases or even whole sections are performed by the soloist contrastively to the orchestra part.  Already at the beginning of the part the solo violin responds to a persistent, harmonic and slightly hard choral of the woodwind instruments. The soloist’s remarks emphasize every new treatment of the choral which allows to identify the features of rondo here. The choral stanzas are perceived as a refrain and the soloist’s contrastive remarks as episodes. The soloist exhibits vivid timbre and register colors, deepness, consistence, coherence of sounding and he often contrasts it to thin and transparent texture. He tries to perform the violin variation using different types of pizzicato for both performing separate sounds, melodic lines, accords and creating sound “stains”. The violin technique pizziccato is used with glissando and a large amplitude vibrato, glissando on pp and introduces i when playing arco.

     Music of the finale is based on the image of continuous motion. Therefore, the part is called “Toccata”. The energetic character, caused by irregular accentuation and altered metre, intensifies dynamic impulses of the development, which can be found in synkope motives of the theme.  The soloist gives each performance of the refrain a new, higher dynamic level and finally, at the end of the third part, the theme of the refrain becomes the climax of the composition. His main and prominent force is the energy of motion and the nature of dance, which makes a sample of a toccata interpretation by the solo violin part.

     In the violin technique “Toccata” as in the first part, the soloist extensively and skillfully uses percussive effects, abrupt, marked strokes (staccato, spiccato, jete), accentuated detache and short springy legato, which are of merely articulatory value. All these means of artistic expression were skillfully used by Oleh Krysa to render the violin «toccata» with its ostinato, asymmetric rhythm, sharp plucks of forte, accords non arpegiato etc.  

     The first violin concerto by M. Skoryk is mostly based on the principles of rapsody. His huge structural parts-sections contrastively depict different emotional moods. In their content, they are close to folk interpretation of instrumental cycles as for instance, in peculiar Gutzul “garland” it can be combined with vigorous dance “Kolomyika” and a ritual song. The role of the solo is very important, other voices interact with it giving rise to harsh polyphony. In Oleh Krysa’s interpretation one can perceive this composition as an improvisation. Three parts (lively-moderate-quick) are played attacca, creating an integrated, poem like monolithic composition. The first part contains features that structurally remind of pre-classiсal “Vivaldi” concerto, a contrasting change of tutti-solo parts; the third part contains a technique of refrain-repetition which is created by the initial Ostinato theme.

         Specific features of the genre, virtuoso cadences are absent in all parts of the composition, however, they are compensated by improvised moments which pierce through all the canvas of the composition. In general, the concerto sounded marvelously, with a continuous proportion of competitive interrelations between the soloist and orchestra, register-timbre contrasts. Oleh Krysa brilliantly performed virtuoso passages, using high position playing, accords and double notes, various coloristic effects (pizziccato, glissando), one string timbre during a more extended part of the composition, and others. An impressive flexibility, expressive performing, and sudden change of dynamics were created by his bow techniques.

         The following composition performed by Oleh Krysa was the First Violin Concerto op. 35 by K. Shymanovsky with numerous tempo markings. Some of them testify to the extent of the form, some mark the inner limits of structural sections in relevantly completed fragments of the composition.

         By his exquisite violin skills the soloist Oleh Krysa managed to present in the introductory part, original intonation marks of the concerto imagery system such as its scherzo, expressive lyrics and refined gracefulness, which are present in the concerto during the whole development. These elements of thematically-imaginary structure coexist on the principle of a conflict-free contrast. The introductory lyrical aesthetic theme (Poco meno mosso) starts at the background of full-tone texture. One more very elegant theme Molto tranquillo e dolce emerges after reiteration of the scherzo episode. It is composed in the technique of fractional figuration and is a prototype of themes which will sound in Lento assai and Allegretto gracioso e capriccioso. At the end of an introductory part a thematic construct is introduced. It can be defined as an intonation mark of the whole concerto, bearing in mind its total presence in various versions and modifications in all parts of the composition.

         Vivace assai scherzando is a part where the soloist brightly presented the sequence of structural elements connected in a mosaic way, constantly changing each other. Tempo comodo (andantiono) starts. Grazioso ed affabile.

         Moreover, melodious constructs of previous phase are present within Andantino reminiscences, in particular half-tone leitintonation which has shifted from introduction to scherzo, and now to the part where the reminiscent violin part is decorated with new harmonious colors. Its rhythmically modified form creates one of the most important compositional element of any part of the concerto. In its renewed rhythmic variant this thematic creation will sound in pre-cadence and final phases of the composition.

         The middle part of Andantino, Lento assai resembles the initial phase of the composition, Lento tranquillo. Despite secunda leitintonations, figurative passages create the main sources of the form, performed in meticulously fine technique which Oleh Krysa demonstrated with sky-high elegance and refined perfection. The soloist constructed the form of scherzo with its abruptly repeated and modified motifs very accurately. The part Poco meno mosso provides transition to the part Allegtretto (graciozo e capriccioso). The framework of the theme in Oleh Krysa's interpretation is worth admiration, it is based on halftone leitintonations and is decorated with trills and elegant ornaments.

         The next chapter of the composition Vivache assai has reprise characteristics, as it accumulates several themes performed in previous parts of the composition. However, here they sound so variably by intonation and so fancifully by emotion. There is a fragment full of “eastern boredom” emotion between Andantino and Scherzo. Its theme is evoked by a poetic oriental image.

         Cadence joins intonational symbols of different parts of the composition on the principle of contrast. So, cadence and final chapters summarize completely the whole thematic material involved in all parts of the form: cadence, scherzo images, whimsical gracefulness; the finale focuses on lyrical expression.

         Development of the concerto caused leveling of the composition framework which is characteristic of fantasy. This is also emphasized by frequent tempo changes as well as interpretation and expression remarks. The soloist Oleh Krysa marvelously presented the author's idea of the composition from the introduction to virtuoso cadence with an inherent performing elegance.

         The final composition that finalized this immense violin performing “marathon” was the First Concerto for violin with orchestra in A minor op.77 by D. Shostakovych and it made a great impression on the audience. D. Schostakovych used the monogram DSCH in this composition for the first time.

         The first initial part is unexpectedly called by the author “Nocturne”. When performing it Oleh Krysa filled the content with deep philosophic thoughts and very careful self-analysis. His violin was a vehicle for the flow of elegant musical poetry and delicate melodies. The violin sounded at the background of the orchestra's whisper with infernal, sometimes nobly reserved tone, that turned into ridiculously annoying voice.  The nature of the genre inclines you to a poetic, dreamy frame of mind, although, images of deep dramatic thoughts are present here, emotional tense may reach the point of despair. The violinist filled this part with sharp, deep-hearted torments and bright dreams.   

The second part, diabolic “Scherzo”, as an angry manifestation of a monster with grotesque pictures of the evil, Oleh Krysa conveyed it by nervous changes and rhythmical pulse. The solo violin was exceptionally brilliant, though not externally showy, but internally deep and meaningful. Exceptionally resilient rhythm and peculiarly rigid sound, the author’s demand, was almost beyond natural expressive possibilities of the violin.

 The tragic “Passacaglia” with “Cadenza” as a dramatic center of the cycle was presented by the soloist in a deep, psychological manner. The violinist displayed philosophical and intellectual emotions. Surprisingly charming, as if deep from one’s heart, Oleh Krysa’s musical interpretation reaches extreme tension, high emotional expression, incredible heights and it is perceived as a conversation, as a confession to oneself. Thanks to his emotional, psychological and artistic vigor the violin melody line acquires almost verbal expressiveness. Its internal expressiveness is in deep reflection of the content as well as in psychological and artistic skills of Oleh Krysa to decode and convince listeners of the author’s idea, who adheres to linear-polyphonic style of composing alongside with complex expressive means. The soloist identified most important things for himself, i.e. a rigorous way in expressing emotions, and a stylish combination of intellect and tense emotionality. In Cadenza, a quiet, exhausted, muted but alive voice of the solo violin, gradually becomes opposed. Left in tiresome loneliness, it relives in angry emotional explosions. Continuous allusions to previous leitthemes announced in “scherzo”, are presented as Jewish and slightly changed author’s intonations (DSCH) aggravate the atmosphere. “Burlesque”- the finale of the Concerto, emerges from Cadenza. Here Oleh Krysa showed sarcastic images of merriment, though not folk grotesque dance. With emotional pain the soloist expressed composer’s main idea ironically, sarcastically, at times in a distorted way. At the same time he found the way to display emotions with inner expressiveness and frank pathetics.

As opposed to the  tradition of classical works of the cyclic form, one should not expect here a victorious dance of the Finale. D. Schostakovych ends the concert with an impressively grotesque “Burlesque”, a ridiculous dance on the bones with infinite acrimony of characters.

The unusual conceptual idea of the entire concert is in the underlying unity of all the parts. After tragic “Nocturne” there appear pictures of execution in “Scherzo”, sentiments of sorrow and impotent resistance in “Passacaglia” and Cadenza, images of merriment in the final “Burlesque”. “Burlesque” itself is aggressively sarcastic, technically enchanting and swift. However, it has a special shade and gloomy color. It is laughter through tears. D. Schostakovych said that “Burlesque” music showed “happiness of a person, who was set free from a concentration camp”.

The final concert of this great violin “marathon” by Oleh Krysa was held with the Symphony Orchestra of Lviv Philharmony. Partnership with the conductor Taras Krysa was exceptionally adorable.

Special inspiration and blessing in this series of violin concerts, the outstanding soloist Oleh Krysa got from his mother Mrs. Maria Krysa.  She was present at all the concerts and enthusiastically admired her extremely gifted Son and Grandson.


Volodymyr Zaranskiy


Doctor of Philosophy in Musical Arts

Lviv National Musical Academy

named after Mykola Lysenko


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