Simon Fraser University
Yaroslav’s Pianistic Highlights

YAROSLAV SENYSHYN

http://www.steinway.com/artists/solo/s

Yaroslav Senyshyn on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgJeMoKouHs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzrJGCJqZFY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EpvvPVH-Hw

Current Discography and CD Digital Downloads:

http://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Yaroslav+Senyshyn

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/yaroslav-senyshyn-plays-rachmaninoff/id588541901

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/albumList.jsp?name_id1=296088&name_role1=2&bcorder=2

http://www.hbdirect.com/search/ – http://www.hbdirect.com/solr/select?indent=on&facet=true&facet.field=label&facet.field=format&wt=json&qf=artist%5E10+title%5E20+text&defType=dismax&q=Yaroslav Senyshyn&fq=list_price:[0+TO+500]&start=0&rows=20&searchSrc=Cl

http://www.platonpromotions.com/

Yaroslav Senyshyn is now a recording artist for Albany Records, New York


DVD Disks

A Recital April 2012 with Susan O’Neill Senyshyn at Melba Hall at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music: The University of Melbourne, Melbourne ® and © 2012, DVD Platon Promotions.

A Lecture Recital April 2012 on “Performance Anxiety” at Melba Hall at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music: The University of Melbourne, Melbourne ® and © 2012, DVD Platon Promotions.

A Lecture Recital April 2008 on “Performance Anxiety” at Von Kuster Hall: The University of Western Ontario, London ® and © 2009, DVD Platon Promotions.

The Best of Senyshyn and O’Neill, A Joint Recital at von Kuster Hall” ® and © 2009, DVD Platon Promotions.

Most Recent Cd’s

Yaroslav Senyshyn (piano), Compact Disc Emotional Vicissitudes (Albany Records, New York). October 2013. Available online at Amazon.com, iTunes, Albany Records, ArkivMusic, HB Music, and other major classical music distributors.

Yaroslav Senyshyn (piano) and Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn (flute), Compact Disc Reflections and Relationships (Albany Records, New York). November 2013. Available online at Amazon.com, iTunes, Albany Records, ArkivMusic, HB Music, and other major classical music distributors.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn plays Rachmaninoff”, Vancouver ® and © 2012, Platon Promotions. Available online at Amazon.com, iTunes, Albany Records, ArkivMusic, HB Music, and other major classical music distributors.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn Live: Bach-Siloti Beethoven Liszt Miller Cochrane” © 2010, Platon Promotions. Available online at Amazon.com, iTunes, Albany Records, ArkivMusic, HB Music, and other major classical music distributors.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn Live: Schubert Schumann Tschaikowsky Liszt” © 2010, Platon Promotions. Available online at Amazon.com, iTunes, Albany Records, ArkivMusic, HB Music, and other major classical music distributors.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn and Susan O’Neill at Von Kuster Hall: A Joint Recital Commemorating The University of Western Ontario Faculty of Music’s 40th Anniversary” London ® and © 2009, Platon Promotions. Available online at Amazon.com, iTunes, Albany Records, ArkivMusic, HB Music, and other major classical music distributors.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn at Tabaret Hall”, Ottawa ® and © 2008, Platon Promotions. “Yaroslav Senyshyn: The Poet”, Ann Arbor ® and © 2007, Platon Promotions.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn Live at the University of Michigan”, Ann Arbor ® and © 2002, Platon Records & Music Videos.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn Live at the John F. Kennedy Center”, ® and © 2001, 2010 Platon Records. Available online at Amazon.com, iTunes, Albany Records, ArkivMusic, HB Music, and other major classical music distributors.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn ‘Soundings’ Recorded at Taxi Stand, Produced by Richard DuBeau © 2000.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn Plays Schumann, Tschaikovsky and Liszt”, ® and © 1999, Platon Records.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn Plays Cochrane and Schubert”, Taxi Stand/Donco Records, ® and © 1998.

“Yaroslav Senyshyn Live” at a piano recital to commemorate the joining of OISE with the University of Toronto, October 10, 1996.® and © 1997, Platon Records, YSCD-001.

Published Reviews Of Recordings

Nockin, Maria (2014). Review of “Reflections and Relationships” by Yaroslav Senyshyn and Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn. Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). Clarke, Colin (2014). Review of “Reflections and Relationships” by Yaroslav Senyshyn and Susan O’Neill- Senyshyn. Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr).

Schulslaper, Robert (2014). Review of “Reflections and Relationships” by Yaroslav Senyshyn and Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn. Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr).

Schulslaper, Robert (2014). “Feature Article by Robert Schulslaper: ‘The whole point of music is emotion’*: A conversation with Yaroslav Senyshyn Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). Schulslaper, Robert (2014). Review of “Emotional Vicissitudes” by Yaroslav Senyshyn. Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr).

LISZT: Années de pèlerinage (Review by Robert Schulslaper) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
LISZT: Années de pèlerinage (Review by Colin Clarke) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
LISZT: Années de pèlerinage (Review by Maria Nockin) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
MEDAGLIA-MILLER: Étude no. 1 in c, op. 8 (Review by Robert Schulslaper) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
MEDAGLIA-MILLER: Étude no. 1 in c, op. 8 (Review by Colin Clarke) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
MEDAGLIA-MILLER: Étude no. 1 in c, op. 8 (Review by Maria Nockin) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
RACHMANINOFF: Preludes (Review by Colin Clarke) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
RACHMANINOFF: Preludes (Review by Jerry Dubins) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
RACHMANINOFF: Études-Tableaux (Review by Colin Clarke) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
RACHMANINOFF: Études-Tableaux (Review by Jerry Dubins) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
SMITH: Image, op. 33/1, 2 (Review by Robert Schulslaper) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
SMITH: Image, op. 33/1, 2 (Review by Colin Clarke) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
SMITH: Image, op. 33/1, 2 (Review by Maria Nockin) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
YOSHINAKA: Meisoh (Meditation). Itami (Pain) (Review by Colin Clarke) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr). piano
YOSHINAKA: Meisoh (Meditation). Itami (Pain) (Review by Jerry Dubins) Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr).

Schulslaper, Robert (2014). “Feature Article by Robert Schulslaper: ‘The whole point of music is emotion’*: A conversation with Yaroslav Senyshyn Fanfare Magazine, Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr).

Piano Concerts: 1966 – Present Time

Yaroslav Senyshyn has given 503 concerts in major concert halls on all continents and hemispheres of the world except Antarctica. His repertoire spans the 18th century to the present (including four living composers). He guards his concert time on the stage very carefully in order to have time for his philosophical work and academic writing and teaching.

Yaroslav Senyshyn: Sample Reviews

Senyshyn is described as a pianist of “enormous power” and “sophistication” (The Washington Post) and for his “originality” (The New York Times).

“When he wishes, he’s capable of a truly colossal sound…He can also play with great delicacy and refinement… of a beguiling, other-worldly atmosphere…. music masterfully performed” (Robert Schulspaer, Fanfare).

“Senyshyn is a pianist of real sensitivity… the ideal interpreter, fearlessly delivering clusters one moment, proffering reflective balm the next… This really is beautiful playing, painterly in its ability to secure and extend an atmosphere…. There is a luminosity here that is rarely heard (Colin Clarke, Fanfare).

“Senyshyn is a passionate pianist who delivers a significant emotional impact…with myriad colors and weaving an emotion-packed aural tapestry” Maria Nockin, Fanfare.

“One has only to listen to the thunderous bass …and the crystalline clarity of the tolling bell-like figuration…Yaroslav Senyshyn demonstrates technical fluency, mastery of the composer’s unique keyboard style, and an understanding of the music’s underlying complex emotional makeup, which, in my opinion, are the equal of any pianist who has played these [Rachmaninoff’s] works, and which give Senyshyn’s performances a truly authentic feel” Jerry Dubins, Fanfare.

Major Piano Recitals In The Last Few Years

Sample Program: Steinway Artist Concert Tom Lee Music Hall Vancouver, BC May, 2014

Yaroslav Senyshyn, piano

Frédéric Chopin Sonata Op. 58, No. 3 in B minor:

1. Allegro maestoso

2. Scherzo: Molto vivace

3. Largo

4. Finale: Presto non tanto; Agitato

Intermission

Franz Liszt Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (LW A179):

1. Lento assai – Allegro energico

2. Grandioso – Recitativo

3. Andante sostenuto – Quasi adagio

4. Allegro energico – Stretta quasi presto-Presto – Prestissimo-Andantesostenuto – Allegro moderato – Lento assai

One month Concert Tour of India: December, 2013

In April, 2012, Melba Hall at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music: The University of Melbourne, Melbourne (including a Master class for undergraduate and graduate piano majors).

Concert tour of Russia and Ukraine, 2011

East Meets West Recital, Centennial Hall, October 2010.

In March 2009, Yaroslav Senyshyn and Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn gave an invited lecture-recital at St.Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick entitled Performance Anxiety and the Emergent Self.

Gave a Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven, Larysa Kuzmenko recital with Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn on Friday, May 2nd, 2008 at 8:00pm at Tabaret Hall, University of Ottawa,  (“A Benefit Concert for Discovery University & its Courses for the Homeless & Low-Income“).

Gave a Chopin, Franck, Liszt recital with Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn on Friday, April 27th, 2007 at 8:00pm at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Ottawa (a Benefit Concert for Discovery University).

Gave a Chopin/Liszt Etude recital April 2, 2008 at Von Kuster Hall at the University of Western Ontario, London. Ontario.

Gave a Liszt, Kuzmenko, Franck, Ibert recital October 31, 2008 at the University of Western Ontario, London.

Gave a Joint Lecture and Recital on Understanding Performance Anxiety Through an Emergent Self on March 27, 2009 and featuring Liszt, Kuzmenko, and Franck with Dr. Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn at Saint Thomas University.

Gave an all-Liszt recital shared equally on January 27th, 2007 at the Massey Theatre, Vancouver with Chandos recording pianist Alan Kogosowski.

Yaroslav Senyshyn is also a performing and recording artist with Platon Promotions

platonpromotions.com

Selected Pianistic Highlights

Yaroslav Senyshyn was one of two pianists chosen to represent Canada at the International Tschaikovsky Competition, 1974 in Moscow. Special performance at the John F. Kennedy Center Washington, D. C., “Critic’s Pick” column in the Washington Post. “Senyshyn has enormous power”, “sophisticated finger work”, (his Chopin was) “sensitively conceived and delicately played(The Washington Post). Georgetown University radio broadcast: “Empire Far-Flung, Part V: Canada II”. Performance Citation and Interview.Appeared in a Georgetown University radio broadcast in Washington, D. C., on the “most important” Canadian pianists including Glenn Gould, Louis Lortie, Anton Kuerti and Angela Hewitt in “Empire Far-Flung, Part V: Canada II”; Air Date: May 26, 1988; Producer: Eileen D. Curtis; WGMS 570AM~103.5FM 11300 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryfield 20852. Sponsored by the Canadian Embassy in Washington D. C., and Rene Picard, Conseiller Culturel Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City Invited to give a special recital and recording to celebrate the formal joining of OISE (The Ontario Institute for the Study of Education) with the University of Toronto. Bolshoi Hall at the Conservatory of Music in Moscow, Russia Recorded 20 CDs Please click on this link for current discography and CD digital downloads: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/yaroslav-senyshyn-plays-rachmaninoff/id588541901

Selected Review Notices

Reviews Written by Juliette de Marcellus

Show: Most recent reviews Most recent comments Page: 1
Live At Von Kuster Hall
Live at Von Kuster Hall – Yaroslav Senyshyn & Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn, January 19, 2010 This review is from: Live At Von Kuster Hall (MP3 Music) Review For those who enjoy an unusual setting of a familiar work, the Live at Von Kuster Hall CD offers an attractive and intriguing setting of César Franck’s Sonata in A major, beloved of violinists, violists and cellists, but this time for flute and piano.

This is fresh and expressive and offers something a little different. This CD, live and in recital format, is well recorded and presents the husband and wife team of pianist Yaroslav Senyshyn and Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn in a four work programme of which the César Franck is the centerpiece. Ms. O’Neill is a flutist who plays seamlessly, with intensity of feeling and a convincing sense of phrase. As might be expected, the partnership of husband and wife is very successful and they sound as one throughout the rapid and passionate passages of the second movement. This is a wonderful partnership.

The third Recitativo-Fantasia movement is particularly well suited to the flute with its meandering recitative and bird-like passages. After hearing this performance it is hard to imagine this movement being played on any other insturment. In the final Allegretto the close partnership between piano and flute is heard again to excellent effect. Throughout the playing is admirable – full of passion, freedom and charm.

This recording opens with Yaroslav Senyshyn performing Liszt`s Sonnetto 104 from Années de Pèlerinage 2ème année. This familiar work was played with remarkable breadth and sonority of which its composer would have approved. The sense of the poet’s declamation is well rendered and very true to the Romantic period.

The CD also includes a short work by Ibert for the flute and piano, Jeux from sonatine pour flute et piano. It closes with a work by contemporary Canadian composer, Larysa Kuzmenko that is designed to give a dramatic ending to the programme. This piece makes use of all the sounds that have become the hallmarks of contemporary efforts. It opens and closes with sounds reminiscent of Petruchka and builds to a predictable forte climax of pianistic sound effects. The pianist’s execution makes the best of this work lending it intensity and urgency.

Like many compositions today it has been given a title, In Memoriam to the Victims of Chernobyl that is meant to predispose us to listen with sympathy. Juliette de Marcellus is an author and prize winning music critic, who has written for the Cox newspapers, Opera News and other publications. She currently lectures on classical music at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida.

The following review is from The Enterprise Bulletin:

Critic Says Tour Will Be Successful

Saturday evenings’ (March 28) recital by Yaroslav Senyshyn at Toronto’s Jane Mallett Theatre marked a debut of sorts. Not that Mr. Senyshyn has not appeared previously on the Toronto concert stage, but this recent recital marked Mr. Senyshyn’s return as a finished, mature, artist. From the outset there was no question of the pianist’s no nonsense and determined approach to his music. Briefly acknowledging his audience as he shot to the piano, he seated himself and immediately plunged into Beethoven’s Sonata Opus 10 No.3. This D major Sonata is an early work that is often favoured by pianists as its four contrasting movements offer a seemingly infinite variety of musical expressive possibilities. Mr. Senyshyn favoured a rapid tempo in this work and as it eventually turned out a rapid tempo in most of the pieces on the program. Harold Schonberg has claimed that modem pianists tend to favor much slower tempi when compared to the performance practices of the masters of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Mr. Senyshyn apparently agrees with him. Coupled with the accelerated tempo was a rhythmical thrust that demonstrated the artists’ mastery in the articulation of left-hand parts which allowed him to underscore interesting harmonies and in turn, bring melodies into bold relief. This was especially evident in the Chopin Sonata. Here once again, the pianist followed the school of the old masters in his performance of the Funeral March. Like Anton Rubinstein and later Rachmaninoff, Mr. Senyshyn tinkered with Chopin’s dynamics and adopted a fortissimo immediately after the trio with a steady decrescendo to the Presto. An altogether interesting touch that raises pianistic spectres! The opening Brahms Intermezzi after intermission continued the romantic tone of the program. Two Revutsky [a 20th century Ukrainian composer] Preludes written much in the vein of Scriabin were given impassioned renderings with an especially scintillating performance of the Opus 7. The concert closed with a Chopin group commencing with the G Minor Ballade which was built to a thunderous climax. The last page of this Ballade was especially noteworthy in its power and intensity. The two Chopin Nocturnes were given poised and sensitive performances and the closing B minor Scherzo was dashed off with great panache. Especially impressive were the dynamic contrasts employed by Mr. Senyshyn. The dynamics were as great as any pianist and certainly greater than most. Even in spite of the great volumes of sound, there was never any annoying pounding which is so often the case with many young pianists. Mr. Senyshyn’s present tour continues with recital appearances in Quebec, Washington and New York. Judging by the standing ovation and the tumultuous applause accorded the pianist on Saturday night, the tour promises to be an extremely successful one. Dr. Frank Csik, Freelance music critic, Toronto


“His [Senyshyn’s] concerts reveal extraordinary qualities of youthfulness and maturity.”

René Picard Conseiller Culterel Canadian Embassy Washington, D. C.


“Senyshyn is a lion on a throne…Once he places himself on the throne he attacks as a lion would, with class, style and strength. He is in full control of the keyboard. It is almost in one move that he sits and plays, There is no delay. He knows what he wants to do and he does it…. Just when the audience was brought upright in their seats, he sent it into soundless hush as he gave the keys his special caress….he played with decreased magnitude. He played with grandeur and dignity. He brought the audience to its feet. He brought this writer to a sweat. If this writer could fondle the typewriter the way this student of Antonina Yaroshevich touches the piano, a Pulitzer award would follow.”

Don Wilcox of the Enterprise-Bulletin


“Originality” — New York Tımes ‘‘Enormous power. . . Sophıstication” — The Washington Post

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Issue 37:4 Mar/Apr 2014
Feature Articles
Robert Schulslaper
FRANCK
IBERT
KUZMENKO
LISZT
MEDAGLIA-MILLER
SMITH
ALBANY
Susan O’Neill Senyshyn
Yaroslav Senyshyn
flute
piano


Feature Article by Robert Schulslaper

“The whole point of music is emotion”*: A conversation with Yaroslav Senyshyn

*Vladimir Horowitz Life is a mystery, but there are those among us whose intellects compel them to attempt a reasoned explanation of the inexplicable: we call them philosophers, and Yaroslav Senyshyn’s analytical prowess places him firmly in their company. That he’s also a fine musician—by definition someone who attempts to transmit the ineffable through evanescent sound—is what inspired this interview. As his recordings reveal, being a professor of aesthetic and moral philosophy at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education doesn’t preclude having the ability to play the piano with insight, idiomatic sensitivity, and power, even though music’s greater meaning may forever place it beyond philosophy’s purview. Unsurprisingly, Slava’s musical instincts asserted themselves long before his adult fascination with philosophy, so we began our conversation with some reminiscences of those early years.

Q: Before entering into a discussion about your new recordings, would you care to tell us something about your early musical experiences?

A: I started to play the piano at the age of five. Although my parents were not professional musicians they loved music with all their being. In particular, my mother was a self-taught pianist. As a young boy, my father chopped wood for an elderly gentleman who, in return for my father’s labor, would give him the opportunity to play on an accordion. The very first piece of furniture acquired by my mother for our home was an old Heintzman upright piano with a beautiful sound.

Q: Did your mother guide your first steps at the piano?

A: My very dear mother provided informal encouragement to play the piano that was pivotal in my musical and intellectual development. She also loved especially to read to me from Will Durant’s Story of Philosophy and Dickens’s David Copperfield. I was certainly a very fortunate child! But it was a great misfortune that my very first piano teacher was a very unpleasant, elderly woman who punished me with large doses of pepper on my tongue because I could not speak English. She could not tolerate the idea that my having been born in Toronto did not result in English being my first language. As a matter of fact, I could speak the various languages of immigrant children in our neighborhood before I could speak English when I went to school at the age of five. My mother could see that I was unhappy after my piano lessons and tried to find out what was wrong. I reacted, of course, as young children do in such circumstances. I felt that all of it was my fault and that I should not tell my parents about the true state of affairs surrounding my piano lessons. It took me about six months before I finally broke down and told my parents the truth. Needless to say, my lessons with this unpleasant teacher came to an abrupt end. After my unhappy initiation into formal piano lessons, I was self-taught till the age of 10. At that time I was introduced to the great Antonina Yaroshevich-Manko, who for all practical purposes was my true first piano teacher. She had been trained at the Kiev Conservatory and had made her home with her husband, the well-known operatic singer Gregory Manko, in Toronto where she had her private piano studio.

Q: Being self-taught can sometimes be an advantage: two of the world’s most famous pianists, Godowsky and Richter, claimed to be mostly self-taught, although Richter did eventually study with Heinrich Neuhaus. The other side of the coin is that bad habits sometimes take root, causing endless trouble later on.

A: Strangely enough, during my self-taught years, I played with flat fingers in the same manner that Vladimir Horowitz did. Although in subsequent years I learned to play with round fingers, I found myself in many instances favoring flat ones because of the timbre of tone colors and their corresponding noise overtones and the like that I felt were available to me in this way.

Q: Speaking as a pianist, I believe it’s not only silly but destructive to insist on a rounded hand position, as some passages are impossible unless the hand is spread out and the fingers are, as in your case, flat. That said, where did your studies lead you?

A: Later in life, I acquired separate undergraduate and graduate degrees in music performance and philosophy at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto. In the end, I settled on a doctorate in aesthetic and moral philosophy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Since those years I have performed in major concert venues including the John F. Kennedy Center, Carnegie Recital Hall, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Melba Hall in Melbourne, Massey Hall in Toronto, and other well-known venues in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Africa. As well, I am about to depart for the first time in my life to India on a concert and conference tour, and next year for concerts and lectures in South America, along with my wife.

Q: Was Antonina Yaroshevich-Manko your only serious teacher?

A: No, there have been a few others. I always feel a strong need to acknowledge my piano teachers: I was very fortunate to have studied with Pierre Souverain, Professor Damjana Bratuz (a seminal influence in my life), Howard Munn, Clifford von Kuster, and Katerina Wolpe.

Q: It must be difficult to find enough time in the day to adequately pursue both your musical and philosophical interests.

A: I have been a very reclusive pianist most of my professional life. I have shied away from what I perceive to be the obtrusive glare of public success. This perspective has enabled me to work and focus on philosophy and on expanding my piano repertoire, which spans from the Baroque to the present time.

Q: Your attitude can’t help but remind me of Glenn Gould, whose multiple talents really blossomed after his retirement from the concert stage. Still, reclusive or not, as a young pianist you chose to try your luck at a prestigious international competition.

A: In 1974, I participated at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. I was unfortunately a bit of a young maverick. Before walking out onto the concert stage, I was introduced as the pupil of Antonina Yaroshevich-Manko, the wife of the well-known then-People’s Artist of the USSR, singer Gregory Manko. This announcement had the unfortunate effect of creating too much excitable and overly audible whispering in the audience. As yet, I was too young to have the authority to wait at the piano until the sound ceased before I began my program. But the whispering would not go away and I found myself not concentrating properly. After completing most of my program and ending with a Liszt Transcendental Étude, I got up and abruptly left the stage, as the noise was too distracting. Brash young artists sometimes act impulsively, only to regret it later. Thus my one and only experience with an international piano competition was anything but a success. Since that time I have explored other reasons why I believe international competitions are ultimately detrimental to good musical development. But that is another topic for another occasion, one that I have discussed to some extent in my book The Artist in Crisis.

Q: Can you possibly reduce the thesis of your book to a few chosen sentences?

A: As implied in your question, a thorough explication would require a long—indeed very long—answer, which is impractical at the moment, so I have no choice but to give you the short answer about how I tie philosophy and performance anxiety together. I draw on existentialism and phenomenology as my philosophical methodology. Also, I analyze my anxiety and the anxiety of others according to my experience and by the aforesaid existential-phenomenological theory in conjunction with discursive analysis inherent in language games and the shifting self (ultimately drawing on Ludwig Wittgenstein as my base) to create a viable synthesis by which I can pursue my insights. That’s it in a nutshell!

Q: And quite a nutshell it is! Moving on, do you feel that your cultural and pianistic background predisposes you to Russian music?

A: Although I feel a special sympathy and empathy for all Slavonic music, I must tell you that I played very little of it most of my life. The only works that I learned in my early 20s were Russian and Ukrainian: Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibitionand Lev Revutsky’s Preludes. The former choice of repertoire was of course greatly influenced by the magnificent and fabled performances of this masterpiece by Vladimir Horowitz and Sviatoslav Richter. I finally decided to play Rachmaninoff just three years ago. When I finally came to his music, as I do with all composers, I studied his life and letters extensively. I have come to the conclusion that for all his popularity, he is still quite unfairly rated as a composer. It is possible that he has not always been performed with the same intensity and sophistication that one accords to, say Beethoven or Schubert. Speaking of the latter and others, I must say that I have devoted most of my performing life to Chopin, Liszt, Schubert, Beethoven, and contemporary music of the 20th century and our own. At the end of the day I am an eclectic performer.

Q: Who are some of your favorite pianists?

A: I admire many pianists—living and dead. Strangely enough, as so many other people, I admire pianists (such as Liszt) that none of us have ever heard or ever will hear! But thanks to recordings, I find that I greatly admire many great artists from the early 20th century to our present time. I am familiar with all of them and all of their known recordings that I have studied them assiduously over the years. But, of course, that is a rather diplomatic answer to your question. For this reason I will narrow it down to the following and more recently cited names: Michelangeli, Richter, Lipatti, Horowitz, Gilels, Pollini, and Brendel.

Q: Do you improvise or compose?

A: When I was a young boy I had vowed that someday I would become a pianist, composer, and conductor. Since those heady days I have poignantly learned of my limitations as a musician. I have settled for pianist and philosopher, and even that is excruciatingly difficult to maintain! Nevertheless, I enjoy improvising to Indian classical music that I perform on occasion with virtuoso sitarists Dr. James Hamilton of Vancouver and Professor Sanjoy Bandopadhyay of Kolkata. But I must say that it is my fervent hope that one day I will find the courage to improvise a Mozart cadenza during the immediacy of a concerto performance. How strange it is that our conservatories and faculties of music do not make this a special skill to be acquired by all performers of works that require improvisatory abilities. I believe the piano repertoire would benefit greatly from such leaps of creativity if such endeavors were inherently encouraged and educated into all of our performers.

Q: What is it you like about performing?

A: This is a profound question, even though it sounds simple enough. I think I can safely say that, like our great pianist Glenn Gould, I have many ambivalent feelings about public performance. But, at the end of the day, no matter how much I prefer my private studio and Steinway grand, I have a need to share my musical insights with a public. Like Artur Rubinstein, I need to communicate with human beings in the concert hall. When things go particularly well during a performance, I feel that I am in an authentic dialogue with my audience, as though they were the collected synthesis of one significant individual.

Q: Let’s turn to your recordings. The titles of both CDs emphasize emotions and relationships, subjects that I know are very important to you in your extra-musical career. This preoccupation also reveals itself in your liner notes, which dwell more on the “message” than the form or style.

A: I very much enjoyed writing my own notes for the two CDs recently released with the Albany Records label. I feel particularly honored that I was able to release contemporary works on this magnificent label that respects both the repertoire of the past and present. I find it splendid that all the contemporary composers on the two CDs are people I know well enough to phone and ask them if I am interpreting their compositions in a manner that agrees with their artistic souls.

Q: Obviously, contemporary music is important to you.

A: It is a shame that so many contemporary performers do not cultivate the great pleasure of working with live composers. The great masters of the past that we venerate all too frequently knew each other and performed each other’s works. Today, there is an alarming ethos developing amongst performers that it is enough to play the music of recognized composers who are long gone. I believe that this is a bad attitude. If all performers adhered to such a performance ethos, then the art of music as we recognize and understand it could very well become extinct. We all have the responsibility, as performers, to not allow this to ever happen in our time or in the future. I realize that this sounds unfashionably idealistic, but there it is.

Q: How does the music you perform inspire you, what is it you’re trying to convey?

A: In answering your question, I can’t do better than to quote my notes extensively, as I’ve put a lot of thought into composing them.

Q: Fair enough. Why don’t we start with Rachmaninoff, as almost all of Emotional Vicissitudes is devoted to a colorful selection of his Preludes and Études-Tableaux.

A: Rachmaninoff explores through his Preludes and Études-Tableaux the remarkable human landscape of emotion in all its variegation and manifestation. One does not graduate from Rachmaninoff but graduates to him, if one is attuned to the staggering complexity of the human psyche and its remarkable spectrum from the very heights of jubilation to a dreaded angst of human suffering, anxiety, and despair. Rachmaninoff explored these emotions in all of his music. And in doing so, he gave all interpretative artists the freedom and responsibility to project what is ultimately ineffable in everyday discourse but miraculously discernible in music to a public that seeks it.

Like Chopin and Liszt, Rachmaninoff understood the piano and its seemingly unlimited sonorities. He wrote in his own image, which extended to the anatomical attributes of his large hands, as well as his remarkably disciplined fingers and mind. But these attributes were always subordinated to his remarkable conceptualization of his musical mind and psyche.

Speaking of Liszt, his Sonetto 104 del Petrarca is a stunning reflection of Petrarch’s 104th Sonnet and a very powerful comment on how loving relationships can lead to emotional extremes. This sonnet speaks best for itself when listened to through the dramatic and sublimely filtered lenses of Liszt’s music: Warfare I cannot wage, yet know not peace; I fear, I hope, I burn, I freeze again; Mount to the skies, then bow to earth my face; Grasp the whole world, yet nothing can obtain. His prisoner Love nor frees, nor will detain….

Q: You and Susan O’Neill play the Frank Sonata for Violin and Piano in a transcription for flute. Before turning to your thoughts on the music, may I ask how you first met Dr. O’Neill?

A: I met my wife, Dr. Susan O’Neill, during my recital in South Africa shortly after the despicable policy of apartheid was finally abolished. During the intermission of my performance, Suzie came backstage with a friend of mine to console me. My friend had sensed that I was very dissatisfied with my playing of Schubert and Liszt in the first half of the recital and asked Suzie to come back stage to give me moral support. When they arrived in the artist’s room they found me slumped over in my chair in a state of despondency and despair.

It was Suzie who was able to say the right things that gave me courage to go back on stage and play a respectable second half to my recital. To put it another way, Suzie was like the sunlight bursting into a dark room and it was love at first sight. Ever since, we have enjoyed performing and lecturing together in many parts of the world. Interestingly enough, our lecture recitals are especially about helping young performers to master their negative anxiety.I am very proud that Dr. Susan O’Neill is a highly respected psychologist and scholar of music psychology and education. We have published together as well and look forward to our next and upcoming recitals, lectures, recordings, and lecture-recitals beginning in Brazil next year.

César Franck’s Sonata in A Major for Flute and Piano severely contradicts various biographies that describe Franck as a devout and rather bland man. The music itself provides ample evidence of a very passionate predisposition to love and life. The music is highly sophisticated with strong sensual harmonies. The fact that the Sonata was given as a wedding present to the violinist Eugène Ysaÿe may have been a wedding wish for the passion, sensuality, warmth, and sublimity so lacking (or subterraneously existing!) in Franck’s own life.

Like many great masterpieces, Franck’s musical reflections on drama, tragedy, and despair are explored through passionate intensity and amiable conversations between the two soloists. This necessitates a dialogical relationship if one is to convey this music convincingly and authentically. Consequently we found it to be a fascinating experience to perform the flute transcription of the Franck. Certainly, our intent here was by no stretch of the imagination to compete with the original violin version. The work is magnificent enough “as is.” But there is great value in a good transcription, because it allows one to study a masterpiece from a different aural perspective.

The flute-piano combination creates a heightened perception akin to a chiaroscuro analysis of a great painting. The timbre of the flute also encourages intimations of a distinct realm of sound and rich underlying overtones that permit a closer look at the horizontal structure of inner parts, and the shadings relating to and leading from the overall melodic sense of the work. As well, the tonal colors that result from a piano-flute combination of sound, in themselves, provide us—and hopefully others—a great pleasure and a heightened sense for timbre in this collaborative way.

Q: I’m curious about the Yoshinaka pieces: Did you participate as a performer on either? The voices in Meisoh sounded as if they could have been synthesized, in which case you could have played them from a keyboard. Ditto for some of the more piano-like timbres in the second. Also, I’m assuming these pieces were assembled as, shall we say, electronic compositions and then transferred to your CD, as opposed to being performed “on the spot” in a recording studio.

A: You are more or less correct in your inferences. The two soundscape pieces were, in part, influenced by composer Murray Schaffer’s soundscape philosophy and were separately recorded before being transferred to the CD. Nevertheless your assumptions in terms of my collaboration are ultimately beside the point. I say that respectfully of your excellent and pertinent question because Yoshinaka wanted it that way.

He wanted my notes to read exactly as you see them so that they would leave a certain desirable, as he sees it, ambiguity and ambivalence over the exact details of collaboration. I personally like to think of this, to some extent, as an example of a certain kind of John Cageian anonymity and the celebration of artistic creation as indeterminacy. But having said all this, Yoshinaka certainly deserves all the credit for his two compositions, as my role, collaboratively speaking, was minimal! But I am very pleased to say that in Yoshinaka’s last email he indicated to me that he had other ideas for future projects. As I consider him to be a very fine composer, I look forward to all such opportunities.

Q: You’ve recorded a brief duet by Jacques Ibert. It’s my impression that he’s enjoyed by many but not thought of as a “serious” composer.

A: Jacque Ibert’s Tendre is not to be underestimated due to its brevity. It is an intense conversational work that captures Impressionistic textures and a nostalgic and intense dialogue between flute and piano.

Q: Kuzmenko’s piece at times sounds as if it must tax you to the limit, as it traverses an extraordinary dynamic range.

A: Larysa Kuzmenko’s In Memoriam to the Victims of Chornobyl is a powerful and poignant reflection on children playing innocuously and obliviously to their impending fate through a tragic nuclear accident. The composition, with all its frightful and clashing-dissonant savagery, begins and ends with a whimper of perplexity and utter despair.

Q: I’m not familiar with David Smith or Reeves Medaglia-Miller, the authors of the remaining contemporary pieces.

A: William David Smith, a Canadian composer and a Trappist monk, understandably guards his privacy while capturing many of his reflections and emotions that extend well beyond the cloisters of his monastery in the two Images.

Canadian composer Reeves Medaglia-Miller has written an Étude that captures Dr. Susan O’Neill’s theoretical concept of braiding, blending, and blurring through emotional vicissitudes. All three are utilized in a reflection that explores an emotional fatality through traditional and non-traditional modal tonalities, dissonance, and thematic repetition to achieve trance through arpeggiated dizziness of sound.

Q: Before we close, I’d like to ask if you would share some of your thoughts on the role of music in society and the importance of music education.

A: I believe that the combination of philosophy in my work and the psychology of music and education in Suzie’s discipline is heightened significantly by an insight due to professional performance. We are literally the guinea pigs of our theoretical perspectives. But it also works the other way around. The philosophy and psychology informs our performances in explicable and inexplicable modus operandi related to the determinacy and indeterminacy of sound, structure, and emotion actualized through both the objective and subjective accents, respectively speaking.

Music, I believe, precedes existence and for this reason is the bedrock of human experience. Although it will continue to reverberate long after our extinction, it is absolutely essential in the collective preservation of our consciousness. Regardless of culture, performers and teachers alike must know this by having acquired an understanding through learning in a manner that allows for imparting knowledge through aesthetic qualitative differentiation of sound and its unlimited expressive potentiation for the good.

REFLECTIONS & RELATIONSHIPS • Yaroslav Senyshyn (pn); Susan O’Neill Senyshyn (fl) • ALBANY 1444 (64:29) LISZT Années de pèlerinage: Sonetto 104. FRANCK Violin Sonata (trans. for flute). IBERT Jeux: Sonatine pour Flûte et Piano: Tendre. KUZMENKO In Memorium to the Victims of Chornobyl. SMITH Image, op. 33/1, 2.MEDAGLIA-MILLER Étude no. 1 in c, op. 8

Captured “live,” pianist Yaroslav Senyshyn and his wife, flutist Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn, present a program polarized between Romantic and contemporary music, with the Ibert, an unabashedly sentimental work by a 20th-century composer, bridging the gap between the two disparate genres. Whether the music illustrates Reflections and Relationships to the degree hypothesized by Senyshyn in his program notes must be evaluated subjectively by each listener, but considered purely as music, this CD contains excellent performances of intriguingly varied repertoire.

Senyshyn’s Liszt is exultant, dramatic, dreamy, rhetorically cohesive, with smoothly executed transitions and a beautifully shaded tonal palette. Senyshyn negotiates the fioratura with ease; ditto the dynamic extremes—this is Liszt, after all. Altogether this is an ingratiating, satisfying performance.

The Franck Sonata was written for violin and piano, but is occasionally heard in a transcription for flute, as here. The flute “sings” as well as the violin, and is as agile: O’Neill-Senyshyn’s richly emotive playing in the slower movements and her easy mastery of the testing rapid-fire unisons in the fast ones easily supports those claims. However, the flute is compromised by the necessity for taking a breath from time to time (I may be wrong, but I haven’t heard of classical flutists employing circular breathing, as some saxophonists do). Nonetheless, in the right hands (as here), the instrument is capable of beautiful, long-lined phrases. The primary consideration, then, is timbral, with the sound of a vibrating column of air contrasted to that generated by bowed or plucked strings.

Interpretively, the Senyshyns have a fine grasp of the music’s lyrical, passionate, and rhapsodic nature. Franck’s piano writing often demands a virtuoso technique and Yaroslav Senyshyn successfully “walks the tightrope,” energetically pressing forward when the music demands it but never outstripping or swamping his partner even when both instruments are at full stretch, as in the exciting second and fourth movements.

When he wishes, he’s capable of a truly colossal sound; try Kuzmenko’s In Memoriam to the Victims of Chornobyl, in which Senyshyn does as much as a pianist can conceivably do to convey horror through dynamics. He can also play with great delicacy and refinement, as when he’s portraying the innocent children whose play is so devastatingly interrupted.

William David Smith’s Image No. 1 opens with low, murky textures contrasted with bright shards of sound. Explosive episodes and vehement single-note repetitions, combined with a marked Russian feeling, recall Prokofiev.

Initially, Image No. 2 substitutes soft sprinkles of sound for brutality: I’m guessing that the una corda has an important part to play in Senyshyn’s creation of a beguiling, other-worldly atmosphere. The second half of the piece revisits the angry sonic assaults of the first Image, but with slightly less intensity.

Reeves Medaglia-Miller’s Étude is also somewhat Russian in inclination, with a declarative opening reminiscent of Rachmaninoff. The piece doesn’t strive to be “modern,” and could have been written by a contemporary of Liszt: its periodic, furious athletic figures must require quick, strong fingers, but in its less strenuous moments the music is somber and majestic. The Liszt connection (probably not intended by the composer) can be heard in the, admittedly brief, thematic fragments that hark back to the Hungarian Rhapsodies.

To recap, this is an eclectic program of standard and contemporary music masterfully performed by two insightful, communicative, and virtuosic musicians. Robert Schulslaper

This article originally appeared in Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr 2014) of Fanfare Magazine.


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Issue 37:4 Mar/Apr 2014
Feature Articles
Colin Clarke
FRANCK
IBERT
KUZMENKO
LISZT
MEDAGLIA-MILLER
SMITH
ALBANY
Susan O’Neill Senyshyn
Yaroslav Senyshyn
flute
piano

FEATURE REVIEW by Colin Clarke

REFLECTIONS & RELATIONSHIPS • Yaroslav Senyshyn (pn); Susan O’Neill Senyshyn (fl) • ALBANY 1444 (64:29) LISZT Années de pèlerinage: Sonetto 104. FRANCK Violin Sonata (trans. for flute). IBERT Jeux: Sonatine pour Flûte et Piano: Tendre. KUZMENKO In Memorium to the Victims of Chornobyl. SMITHImage, op. 33/1, 2. MEDAGLIA-MILLER Étude no. 1 in c, op. 8

This well-planned recital begins with a substantial slab of solo piano. The Liszt is given an impassioned performance by Senyshyn, who has a similarly impressive, mainly Rachmaninoff disc reviewed below. Applause is retained as the performers walk on stage for the Franck (the Liszt is shorn of this). The flautist Susan O’Neill-Senyshyn makes a dark, dusky flute sound entirely appropriate for the first movement of the Franck. There is an element of the benefits of live performance here, in that phrases are lovingly dwelt upon in a way that studio conditions might well inhibit. The tricky piano opening to the second movement is excellently done. Senyshyn is a pianist of real sensitivity, and it is noteworthy that he never even threatens to overwhelm his soloist, despite Franck’s complex demands. The third movement is beautifully crepuscular; the Finale is reflective and pastoral. The Ibert slow movement receives a wonderfully shaded account. It almost seems a shame to have the applause at the end. Larysia Kuzmenko is Composer-in-Residence with the Toronto Symphony. Her In Memoriam to the Victims of Chornobyl is for solo piano and, in terms of harmonic language, introduces a more Modernist slant than heretofore. The headlong, dissonant toccata element is very involving (especially when played with such grit as here), as is the granitic climax. The movements from Smith’s Image (again for solo piano: the use of the singular is correct) are fascinating in their emotional range, and Senyshyn again seems the ideal interpreter, fearlessly delivering clusters one moment, proffering reflective balm the next. Smith, born in Toronto, is also a Trappist monk. Finally, the fascinating Étude by Reeves Madaglia-Miller, a name new to me. There seems to be an almost Mussorgskian bareness to some of this piece. It makes for a hard-edged but effective close to a fascinating and well recorded disc; a pity the applause retained is a mere token gesture, as if the producer could not decide whether or not to include it. Nevertheless, recommended. Colin Clarke

This article originally appeared in Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr 2014) of Fanfare Magazine.


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Issue 37:4 Mar/Apr 2014
Feature Articles
Colin Clarke
RACHMANINOFF
YOSHINAKA
ALBANY
Yaroslav Senyshyn
piano

FEATURE REVIEW by Colin Clarke

RACHMANINOFF Preludes: op. 23/2, 4, 5; op. 32/5, 10, 12. Études-Tableaux: op. 33/2, 7, 8; op. 39/2, 5, 9. YOSHINAKA Meisoh (Meditation). Itami (Pain) • Yaroslav Senyshyn (pn) • ALBANY 1445 (61:43)

Kicking off with the G-Major Prelude from op. 32, and therefore setting forth a most reflective profile, Canadian pianist Yaroslav Senyshyn then confirms his script is to reveal the tender side of Rachmaninoff with a deliciously and masterly paced B-Minor Prelude from the same set (No. 10). This really is beautiful playing, painterly in its ability to secure and extend an atmosphere. The 16th notes that open the G♯-Minor (op. 32/12), in this context, appear as snowflakes flickering in the light: There is a luminosity here that is rarely heard.

The impression of withheld power in the famous G-Minor of op. 23 is palpable. When Senyshyn does let his hair down, the results are impressive, as in the B♭-Major from op. 23. Even here it is clear that Senyshyn’s focus is on the composer’s lyrical side. The blackness of the Étude-Tableau op. 33/4 is palpable, while op. 39/5 seems to represent a significant emotional journey of its own in the space of a mere five minutes. The dramatic silences of op. 33/9 are perfectly projected.

The link between Rachmaninoff and Yoshinaka is an emotional longing. The sound of a bell and of what sounds like wind and rain come as a bit of a shock (there I was, expecting a piano). Atsushi Yoshinaka studied with Morton Subotnik and Fred Rzewski among others. The two works here are referred to as “soundscape compositions” and are recorded in the field. A longing, directly analogous to that which runs through Rachmaninoff’s music, is present here. Inspired by the Strait of Georgia (British Columbia), the two pieces provide a most stimulating and imaginative, not to mention unique, extension of Rachmaninoff’s nostalgia.

The recording is excellent at lower to medium dynamic levels but has a tendency to appear slightly shallow in the louder moments. There seems to be a sudden change of acoustic at 3:06 in track 5 (op. 23/4). That notwithstanding, this remains an intriguing and rewarding disc. Colin Clarke

This article originally appeared in Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr 2014) of Fanfare Magazine.



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Issue 37:4 Mar/Apr 2014
Feature Articles
Maria Nockin
FRANCK
IBERT
KUZMENKO
LISZT
MEDAGLIA-MILLER
SMITH
ALBANY
Susan O’Neill Senyshyn
Yaroslav Senyshyn
flute
piano

FEATURE REVIEW by Maria Nockin

REFLECTIONS & RELATIONSHIPS • Yaroslav Senyshyn (pn); Susan O’Neill Senyshyn (fl) • ALBANY 1444 (64:29)

LISZT Années de pèlerinage: Sonetto 104. FRANCK Violin Sonata (trans. for flute). IBERT Jeux: Sonatine pour Flûte et Piano: Tendre. KUZMENKO In Memorium to the Victims of Chornobyl. SMITHImage, op. 33/1, 2. MEDAGLIA-MILLER Étude no. 1 in c, op. 8

Pianist Yaroslav Senyshyn and flutist Susan O’Neill Senyshyn recorded Reflections & Relationships at a live concert, and the enthusiasm of the audience is part of the ambience of this compact disc. Both artists teach at the Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. The performance begins with “Sonneto 104” from Liszt’s second book of Années de Pèlerinage(Years of Pilgrimage). The composer wrote it about his visits to Italy between 1837 and 1849 but only published it in 1858. In “Sonneto 104” he laments that he grasps the world but obtains nothing. Perhaps that idea echoed Liszt’s thoughts on the cost of fame. Senyshyn is a passionate pianist who delivers a significant emotional impact.

His wife joins him for a flute transcription of César Franck’s A-Major Sonata. Originally, it had been the composer’s wedding gift to violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. Here, transcribed for flute and piano, it does not have the allowance for breath that a piece written expressly for flute would have. Still, it contains the rich harmonic language that listeners have loved for more than a century. O’Neill-Senyshyn plays with a sweet tone and well-planned phrasing, while her husband plays with considerable passion. He has a marked ability to evoke emotion with his approach to the piano and it is most evident in the turbulent Allegro movement.

James Galway and Martha Argerich perform this Franck Sonata on a comparable but much older RCA Victor Europe disc, but their rendition is much lighter and faster. The Senyshyns follow the Sonata with Tendre, a section of Jacques Ibert’s Sonatine for Flute and Piano from his Jeux. Although the piece is less than three minutes long, it sets the mood for an exotic dream. There is a complete performance of the Sonatine on a 1998 Warner Classics disc featuring Emmanuel Pahud and Eric LeSage. Their playing is elegant and their style idiomatically French.

Larysa Kuzmenko’s In Memoriam to the Victims of Chornobyl is a thoughtful reflection on the nuclear disaster and its effects on the people who were caught up in it. She writes strong percussive music in the tradition of great 20th-century composers from the former Soviet Union. Senyshyn uses the full range of his Steinway grand’s dynamics in depicting the 1986 event.

Image, Nos. 1 and 2, by Trappist Monk William David Smith are also strong dark works for piano. The first, in particular, is as bracing as a jolt of espresso. The second offers a bit of respite before finishing in a strong and decisive manner. Unfortunately, there is a tiny buzz in the ambient sound on these two tracks that is not evident elsewhere.

The finale, Étude No. 1 in C Minor by Reeves Medaglia-Miller, continues the dramatic mood, with the solo piano painting sound waves with myriad colors and weaving an emotion-packed aural tapestry. It would have been nice to hear more of the flute at the end, but it is important to hear new music and the final three pieces for piano are by composers who should be better known. Maria Nockin

This article originally appeared in Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr 2014) of Fanfare Magazine.

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Issue 37:4 Mar/Apr 2014
Feature Articles
Jerry Dubins
RACHMANINOFF
YOSHINAKA
ALBANY
Yaroslav Senyshyn
piano

FEATURE REVIEW by Jerry Dubins

RACHMANINOFF Preludes: op. 23/2, 4, 5; op. 32/5, 10, 12. Études-Tableaux: op. 33/2, 7, 8; op. 39/2, 5, 9. YOSHINAKA Meisoh (Meditation). Itami (Pain) • Yaroslav Senyshyn (pn) • ALBANY 1445 (61:43)

You are not likely to have heard or heard of Toronto-born pianist and aesthetician Yaroslav Senyshyn, for according to his bio, “he is a highly reclusive pianist who chooses his concert venues and publications carefully.” To the best of my knowledge, his discography is very limited, the current release being one of two commercial recordings he has made for Albany, which signed a contract with him as recently as last year (2013).

Senyshyn has been a professor of music and philosophy of aesthetics and moral education at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia and has published extensively in journals such as Philosophy of Music Education Review, the Journal of Educational Thought, Educational Leadership, and the Canadian Journal of Education. His list of publications—books, articles, papers, and reviews—is a very long one indeed, covering his interdisciplinary fields of research and interest in the arts, moral education, live performance and anxiety, subjectivity, self-punishment, despair, and the aesthetic life and gender issues in performance. He explores this in the context of Kierkegaard’s aesthetic, religious, and ethical philosophy.

The title of Senyshyn’s album under review is Emotional Vicissitudes, though the only significance of said title that one finds is in the pianist’s self-authored program note, in which he states, “One does not graduate from Rachmaninoff but graduates to him, if one is attuned to the staggering complexity of the human psyche and its remarkable spectrum from the very heights of jubilation to a dreaded angst of human suffering, anxiety, and despair.” Whether you attribute such profundities of thought and expression to Rachmaninoff’s music or not, I think you could just as easily ascribe similar attributes to any number of other composers, which in that respect would not make Rachmaninoff unique or even special.

While Senyshyn may be unfamiliar to the reader, the music on this disc is anything but, which the pianist readily admits when he says, “Although Rachmaninoff’s Preludes and Études-Tableaux are very well known there is room for ever-evolving interpretations of these masterful works.” On that point, I think we can all agree.

Senyshyn is an official Steinway Artist, so it has to be assumed that he plays this recital on a Steinway concert grand, though neither the specific model nor the recording venue is identified. That matter aside, one has only to listen to the thunderous bass at the beginning of the B♭-Major Prelude, op. 23/2, and the crystalline clarity of the tolling bell-like figuration at the beginning of the G♯-Minor Prelude, op. 32/12, to appreciate Senyshyn’s extraordinary dynamic range and delicate finger-work. Moreover, he carefully balances selections from Rachmaninoff’s two sets of Preludes, opp. 23 and 32, both against each other and against selections from the composer’s two sets of Études-Tableaux, op. 33 and 39, creating an emotionally satisfying program sequence.

Needless to say, these pieces have all been recorded before by pianists who are well known for their Rachmaninoff and more familiar to us than is Senyshyn—Vladimir Ashkenazy, Howard Shelley, and Ruth Laredo come quickly to mind—but Yaroslav Senyshyn demonstrates technical fluency, mastery of the composer’s unique keyboard style, and an understanding of the music’s underlying complex emotional makeup, which, in my opinion, are the equal of any pianist who has played these works, and which give Senyshyn’s performances a truly authentic feel.

The CD concludes with two short pieces by Japanese composer Atsushi Yoshinaka (b. 1963). He and Senyshyn apparently met at Simon Fraser University during Yoshinaka’s visiting professorship there in 2012–13.

Unfortunately, the album note tells us very little about Meisoh or Itami, other than the fact that they are “soundscape compositions recorded in the field.” Senyshyn takes no part in either of these tracks, which at times give the impression of being at least partially electronically generated. Meisoh is a fairly static piece which features a repetitively tolling bell that is gradually overlaid by what sounds like a wordless chorus, which increases in size and gets louder as the piece progresses.

In Itami, it’s even harder to make out what or who is producing some of the eerie effects, which definitely seem to have been subjected to some sort of electro-acoustical manipulation. At one point, we hear what sounds like a swarm of insects with metallic wings, while at another point we hear an effect that strikes me as the sound an airplane would make if it were taking off backwards. Then there’s the sound of wind sucking instead of blowing. It’s as everything has been processed to sound in reverse—kind of like a Doppler effect in contrary motion—so that the decays come before the attacks, thus affecting the normal overtone series so that it becomes impossible to discern the source of the produced tones. It’s a weird experience, but one that is somehow quite spellbinding, haunting, and even moving, which I’m sure was the composer’s intent.

One might raise an eyebrow at the presence of Yoshinaka’s two “soundscapes” on a program of solo piano pieces by Rachmaninoff, just as one might be taken aback at finding a fly in one’s soup. But proper dinner party etiquette dictates that one not bring it to the host’s attention, but rather pretend not to notice. For Senyshyn’s Rachmaninoff, strongly recommended. Jerry Dubins

This article originally appeared in Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr 2014) of Fanfare Magazine.

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Issue 37:4 Mar/Apr 2014
Feature Articles
Colin Clarke
RACHMANINOFF
YOSHINAKA
ALBANY
Yaroslav Senyshyn
piano

FEATURE REVIEW by Colin Clarke

RACHMANINOFF Preludes: op. 23/2, 4, 5; op. 32/5, 10, 12. Études-Tableaux: op. 33/2, 7, 8; op. 39/2, 5, 9. YOSHINAKA Meisoh (Meditation). Itami (Pain) • Yaroslav Senyshyn (pn) • ALBANY 1445 (61:43)

Kicking off with the G-Major Prelude from op. 32, and therefore setting forth a most reflective profile, Canadian pianist Yaroslav Senyshyn then confirms his script is to reveal the tender side of Rachmaninoff with a deliciously and masterly paced B-Minor Prelude from the same set (No. 10). This really is beautiful playing, painterly in its ability to secure and extend an atmosphere. The 16th notes that open the G♯-Minor (op. 32/12), in this context, appear as snowflakes flickering in the light: There is a luminosity here that is rarely heard.

The impression of withheld power in the famous G-Minor of op. 23 is palpable. When Senyshyn does let his hair down, the results are impressive, as in the B♭-Major from op. 23. Even here it is clear that Senyshyn’s focus is on the composer’s lyrical side. The blackness of the Étude-Tableau op. 33/4 is palpable, while op. 39/5 seems to represent a significant emotional journey of its own in the space of a mere five minutes. The dramatic silences of op. 33/9 are perfectly projected.

The link between Rachmaninoff and Yoshinaka is an emotional longing. The sound of a bell and of what sounds like wind and rain come as a bit of a shock (there I was, expecting a piano). Atsushi Yoshinaka studied with Morton Subotnik and Fred Rzewski among others. The two works here are referred to as “soundscape compositions” and are recorded in the field. A longing, directly analogous to that which runs through Rachmaninoff’s music, is present here. Inspired by the Strait of Georgia (British Columbia), the two pieces provide a most stimulating and imaginative, not to mention unique, extension of Rachmaninoff’s nostalgia.

The recording is excellent at lower to medium dynamic levels but has a tendency to appear slightly shallow in the louder moments. There seems to be a sudden change of acoustic at 3:06 in track 5 (op. 23/4). That notwithstanding, this remains an intriguing and rewarding disc. Colin Clarke

This article originally appeared in Issue 37:4 (Mar/Apr 2014) of Fanfare Magazine.

Yaroslav Senyshyn’s appearances have won him acclaim in many major concert halls throughout the world including New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall, Toronto’s St. Lawrence Centre and Massey Hall and the Bolshoi Hall at the Moscow Conservatory. Most recently he has performed at Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, Simon Fraser University (a scholarship benefit performance) at the SFU Theatre and was invited to give a special recital in Toronto to celebrate the joining of OISE and the University of Toronto. He has been featured in a Georgetown University radio broadcast in Washington D.C. on Canadian performers including Glenn Gould, Louis Lortie and Anton Kuerti. While playing at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., he appeared in the “Critic’s Choice” column of the Washington Post and after his debut there was referred to as a pianist of “enormous power” and “sophisticated finger work”. (The Washington Post)

Senyshyn is a Professor of philosophy of music aesthetics and moral education at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education. As well he has published extensively in international and national journals such as the Philosophy of Music Education Review, Musica-Realta, Interchange,  the Journal of Educational Thought, Educational Leadership, the Canadian Journal of Education, and other publications. He is Past President of the Simon Fraser University Faculty Association and a member-at-large on the national Executive of CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers). His performances have won him acclaim  in major concert halls throughout the world. Please click on this link for current discography and CD digital downloads: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/yaroslav-senyshyn-plays-rachmaninoff/id588541901 Alternatively see: platonpromotions.com

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Please click on this link for current discography and CD digital downloads: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/yaroslav-senyshyn-plays-rachmaninoff/id588541901