REVIEW: Concert evening with artists Kiril Rodin on cello and Zheni Zaharieva on piano

From the very beginning, Russian artists have been the bearers of a significant part of the programs of the Ohrid Summer Festival. This time as well, the announcement about the guest appearance of the Russian cellist Kirill Rodin accompanied by the pianist Zheni Zaharieva from Bulgaria, aroused interest and at last night’s concert brought an audience that filled the church of St. Sofia, in accordance with the permitted regulations. The serious program with an emphasis on three sonatas for cello and piano was an additional indication that we would be listening to a serious concert. Because the sonata evenings basically presuppose a commitment and a serious approach to the complex musical matter.

The concert started with the announcement of the cellist Rodin for additions to the program with “Aria” from Bach’s Third Suite, in honor of the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich but also as an inspiring moment from the presence in the church of St. Sofia. There is probably no better way to express admiration and respect for the undisputed greatest wealth of the “Ohrid Summer” – the acoustics in St. Sofia. The aria was really a kind of spiritual introduction to the concert.

Luigi Boccerini’s two-volume Sonata in A major was performed by the artists in a suitable “gallant” style with all the necessary features, important to capture the elegance and mastery of the Italian early classical style. In a strong rhythmic, yet coquettish pulse and a clear distinction between the solo section of the forehead and the “accompaniment” of the piano, Kiril Rodin and Zheni Zaharieva show that they are artists who dive into the musical fabric with almost scientific studiosity.

To the unique Sonata in a minor by the romantic melodist Franz Schubert, we will emphasize that the artistic couple Rodin – Zaharieva in the background of the poetic interpretation conveyed the lost sound of the archaic instrument from the nineteenth century arpeggio (upright guitar created by this . The choice of “restrained” tempo was noticeable, which the artists “justified” by capturing a vocal image in the performance of Schubert’s lyrics. It is inevitable that these instrumental structures will be interpreted through the prism of his solo songs. We will emphasize our perception of the chamber duo Rodin Zaharieva as a combination of two distinct and on many grounds diverse artistic individualities that together form an interesting and in many layers unique artistic whole. Brahms’s first sonata, which incorporates two themes from The Art of the Fugue and reflects his penchant for Bach polyphony, yet reshaped into the complexity of late Romanticism, was certainly presented as the grandeur of the concert. The powerful and dense texture – a reflection of Brahms’ aspiration to combine the most complex harmonic and formative specifics of the sonata and fugue, the cello and piano sections that require soloists to carefully harmonize phrases and compactness, the artists re-conveyed each with their own expression. The experienced pianist offered us the privilege to listen to an artist in a mature creative and life phase, whose performance “sees” the years of permanent search for the hidden depths of the piano and its perfect tone. In Zheni Zaharieva’s interpretation, one can feel the energy of some past times in which the well-informed recognize the layered knowledge from theoretical disciplines and from the historical context of the performed works. On the other hand, it completely gives the cellist Rodin space to dominate with his poetics and voice-shaped vision in the cello section, with which he gives the main word. The joint creation of the cello and the piano is a wealth of sound colors and refined sound characters, where the overemphasized rhythmic agogies, with incredible harmony, move in one breath.

In order to complete the concert with a Russian sound, the artists performed the compositions “Peco Capriccio”, Nocturne and “Sentimental Waltz” by Petar Ilyich Tchaikovsky. They showed with obvious ease that in Tchaikovsky they “feel comfortable” and that aesthetic is very suitable for the sensibility but also for the technical readiness.

Curiosity: In 1999, Kiril Rodin was a guest on the Ohrid Summer for the first time. Twenty-two summers later, the concert program was performed then – almost completely copied in last night’s concert. The interpretation of the fact is left to everyone at will!

Vikica Kostoska Peneva – musicologist