Words by Claire McNamara
April 5th, 2016
One of the brilliant minds behind continuous music, Ukrainian performer, composer, philosopher and one of the fastest pianists in the world, Lubomyr Melnyk performed to an eager crowd in D-Light Studios early last month, at an event organised by HomeBeat.
D-light Studios made for a romantically alternative, urban venue. A pathway of tea lights led the way from the entrance of the top floor to the room the performance would be taking place in, the ceilings were high, the walls painted white, a mix-match of chairs filled the room, no two alike, candles lined the window sills and along the walls. The few lights that were in this room were focused on the piano itself, a beautiful machine that would soon captivate every person at the sold out venue.
Lubomyr himself is one of the fastest pianists in the world, able to reach 19 notes per second, a virtuoso pianist though not a natural piano player, he is quick to tell us jokingly that he was kicked out of piano school for being so bad. Though incredibly sombre in his performance, his sense of humour permeated throughout the evening. The night itself was far from your standard piano gig- it was an evening of laughter and philosophy, each piece provided with an introductory explanation or anecdote.
Melnyk played four pieces over the course of the evening, the first of which he told us had never been played before that day and was not yet complete, a work in progress. The piece was called “Depths of Depression”, he told us with a wry smile, after being informed by the woman in charge of his next album, who is Chinese, that non-Chinese people are no good at the piano- his dry humour revealing itself not for the first time that evening. The piece demonstrated an internal struggle against a constant flow, the two hands working together but deviating from the virtuosic melody. The constant music sounded like a duet with a virtuoso pianist.
The second piece of the evening was entitled “I Love You”, though at first hesitant to admit to such a clichéd titled, he admitted it with reluctance and a nervous laugh. This wasn’t about love in the traditional sense though, Melnyk thinks on a much wider scale in terms of love, “a hippy at heart”, he told us that love is the warmth between all human kind, the “structure of the Universe is built on love” and that love is certainly not found in Stansted Airport!
A philosopher, Lubomyr offered profound insights to his pieces and to life, “Everything is beautiful” we were told, “We are prisoners in the Universe of beauty”, there is no escape from the endless beauty and perfection around us every day, we are simply accustomed to it.
The performance ended with piece called “Windmills”, about forty minutes in length, telling the tale of an old fashioned windmill, about 400 years old. The piece started slow, depicting the sleeping, breathing windmills. The wind comes, blowing strongly and sets the windmill rolling. Mechanical in character with distinct rhythmic patterns. There reaches a point of Nirvana in this piece where everything is working in perfect tandem, it is here that Lubomyr possesses a unique ability to put technical control to chaos.
At each interval Melnyk gave more and more insight to both himself and the pieces he was playing, he revealed to us that while playing, his body is permanently in a state of ecstasy. He believes continuous music to be the soul of the piano, the “real voice”, that we’re not hearing the artist, but rather the instrument itself the way it should be heard. But maybe he’s wrong, maybe continuous music is not the action of the instrument at the disregard for the musician, perhaps instead it’s a perfect fusion of the two and what we are hearing is a flawless symbiosis of man and instrument.
To hear more of Lubomyr Melnyk’s work, visit Lubomyr.com.
For more information on upcoming events, visit Homebeat.ie.
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