Review: Scene creations on the concert podium

When the programme of Ohrid Summer Festival announces a concert of already proven before the Macedonian audience, well-known musicians, then the expectations are set in accordance with their past work. Especially, the mutual satisfaction (of the audience and of the artists, too), comes when the already formed impressions from the past get their confirmation in the current experience. Such was the case with the concert of the Soprano Vesna Gjinovska – Ilkova, the pianist Kristina Svetieva and the guest of the concert, the tenor Gjorgji Cuckovski, who took place in the last day of July in the acoustic place of the church St Sophia. Each of them, with their individual artistic achievements on the national and international scene (Gjinovska – Ilkova and Cuckovski in the sphere of vocal interpretation, and Svetieva in the piano), has built a high reputation, which, with this performance, got one more recognition. Uniting the two, essentially different concepts, which require from an artist exclusively developed musical and intellectual capacities, Gjinovska – Ilkova, once more proved that she could respond to the task with equal success.

As the main bearer of the vocal element of the concert, Vesna Gjinovska – Ilkova, set the pillar of the programme concept with a solo performance, giving a small, but significant space to the art of opera, which, in turn, gave the topping of the whole concert performance.

Namely, in a retrospection of the first part of the programme content this night, we can conclude that it succeeded in realising a concentrated moment of creativity, without unnecessary widespreading, which is an essential component in the performing acto of a solo song. Carefully and precisely moving in the contours that its form imposes, she, with a masterly application of vocal technique approached the shaping the tiniest details. Presenting more varied styles, with clearly defining the pieces by character, she levelled each performance with originality and refined musicality, which was obvious in the skilfully performed subtle dynamic nuances, touching the silence with the marvellous pianissimo, and filling the space with the powerful forte, spreading the full splendour of her voice. Additionally, including her natural artistic gift and long experience on the opare stage, in each of the solo songs she created small scene images, which gave the performance a dose of drama touch.

With the choice of ten golden pieces from this genre, Gjinovska – Ilkova took us through the chamber perception for voice and piano, to a range of talented composers from the European Romanticism and post-Romanticism. Initially, with the emotional character of ther musical temper, she sang three lyrical images by Petar Ilic Tsaikovsky, underlining all the characteristics of his music, being part of each of them – “To forget so soon”, “I like a single word” and “Otcego”, following up with the romance of Sergey Rachmaninoff “Ne poj, krasivitsa”, in which, subtly, with her interpretative maturity she pulled the author’s personal, typically melancholic trait, shaping a mini section of the masterpieces of the Russian vocal lyrics.

Then she took us in the depths of the French solo song, gently retelling firstly, the dreamy atmosphere in the Romantic piece “Apres un reve” from the youthful period of Gabriel Faure, and then the reminiscent mood of one of the most popular pieces in this genre by Francis Poulanc, the song „Le Chemins de l’amour“, written for the theatre play “Rememberet time”. With especially prominent zest, she showed us the elated passion in the two solo songs from the opus of Franc Liszt, “Oh! Ouand je dors“and “Enfant, si j’etais Roi“, finishing this vocal collage with an emotional tide in “Morgen” and “Zueignung” by Richard Strauss.

In the very concert finale, Vesna Gjinovska – Ilkova devoted to the opera opus, keeping consistency in the emotional intensity. She performed the aria “Ecco respire appena” from the opera “Adriana Lecouveur” by Francesco Cilea, and together with the guest, Gjorgji Cuckovski, they painted the duet of Santuzza and Turiddu from the opera “Caveleria Rusticana” by Pietro Mascagni”. Both year-long partners on the opera stage, that evening transferred the the whole dramatism between the two characters on the stage in St Sophia.

Cuckovski, equally good and confident both as a partner in the duet performance, but also in the solo dwellings, presented himself with the romance by Sergey Rachmaninoff, “These summer nights” and the opera aria “Lamento di Federico” from the opera “L’Arlesiana” by Francesco Cilea. With his remarkable and suggestive interpretative expression, he realised impressive creations, showing exquisite music interpretation to the music and lyrics whole, with a ring spectrum of nuances.

Nevertheless, for the whole sound image of the concert, a big, essential part played the piano accompaniment by Kristina Svetieva. With her light and refined tone, she subtly painted the contours of the melodies. With a precise dose, unobtrusively filling the background of the vocal emission, yet showing her technical brilliance and sense of stylistic coloration, she perfectly accompanied the soloists’ ideas. The long cooperation of Svetieva and Gjinovska – Ilkova is obvious, which makes them a successful and productive vocal and piano tandem.

The audience, apparently content, with long applauses, reacted excitedly after each performance, seeking a prolongation of the music enjoyment, which the artists responded to with two encores. In the first, Gjinovska – Ilkova and Cuckovski shared “Hatjel bi jedinoe slova” by Tsaikovsky, giving it a new, soprano-tenor colorite, while in the second one, Vesna Gjinovska – Ilkova once again performed the Strauss’ “Zueignung”

We had the opportunity to hear one more concert, in which the artists fully and dedicatedly open before the audience, giving us rich scene creations without décor and facades, enchanted with their music and performing energy.

Aleksandar Trajkovski