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POSTED AT 04:03 PM 30-12-2018

Amazed and delighted by Russian classical duo in Colombo

From Russia with love:Dimitry Miachin and Izabella Andriasian.Pic by Ishanka Sunimal

Having made my way to the Lionel Wendt Memorial theatre on the evening of December 18, I had not been prepared in my mind to be as amazed and delighted as I certainly was, listening to Soprano Izabella Andriasian collaborating with pianist Dmitry Miachin.  Both of these youngsters hail from St. Petersburg in Russia and are performers in their ascendency.  Neither of their names was familiar or known, but I have reason to be confident that they already exhibit what it takes to reach the zenith of acclaim and artistry in the near future.

Both are distinguished alumni of the Rimsky Korsakov College of Music, and it was not necessarily coincidental that many of the items in their recital were works by Korsakov!  In the main were art songs by Tchaikovsky, Gavrilin and Scriabin and included an aria from “Snow Maiden” (Korsakov).

Frankly, I do not know the singer’s capacity for acting and therefore I am not completely aware of her skill in contributing to the grand operatic tradition; however her command of the idiom shows up the intensity and breadth of her voice as a superlative recitalist. With her dark Armenian visage, appearance and slender figure allowing one to assume she is a somewhat diminutive presence on stage, I was startled to hear her the sumptuous sweep of her powerful soprano filling the entirety of the theatre. Her vocal equipment has that rare quality of crystal clarity with neatness both in the upper register and through the seamless transition to the middle and lower as well, with full knowledge of what she wishes to project and where.  I was impressed and was immediately reminded of the immortal Elisabeth Schwarzkopf who epitomized bel canto singinge specially in the realm of lieder.  I shall be looking out for more from Ms. Andriasian!

Equally impressive was the pianist.  Dmitry Miachin is definitely a twenty-first century phenomenon who has imbibed deeply of his own cultural tradition but is potently aware of and able to assimilate modernity and the contemporary ‘sound’ as well.  This factor or compelling feature became evident in several solo pieces he performed, all of which were of his own originality, either previously written or where he has provided space for improvisation.  In him coalesced, pianistically, Liszt, Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Keith Jarrett!  For one such as I, this is not customary at piano recitals in Colombo. The whole keyboard is his palette, and his control was notable whether in the muscularity of whole slews of robust rumblings in the bass and also in the delicacy of filigree melodic themes and developments that he was eager to deliver via his fingers on the keys be they in the right hand or the left. I know not what the titles are that he has given those flights of imagination, but there was an attempt to interpret in English ideas that would likely have meant more in Russian!  The solo piano works were inscribed in the printed programme as “In my Soul”; “Road to the Ocean”; and “The Breath of Heaven” – certainly impressionist, overall!

In the encore, that perennial among Russian romantic torch songs “Dark Eyes”, it was sheer joy to suddenly be aware of the altered harmonies that Miachin brought to bear in the piano introduction.  This song attributed to the Ukrainian poet Yevhen Hrebinka of the middle 19th century swells and sobs with much emotion (my own unforgettable encounter having been in  those trusty 78 rpm records of Feodor Chaliapin, the monumental Russian basso ), but, Miachin’s treatment at the keyboard had more the flavour of Brad Meldau or Herbie Hancock, even as Isabella gave it all the fire and flair at her command!!

The Russian Centre in Colombo deserves plaudits for arranging for such a duo as we had visiting in association with the Colombo Classical Music Circle.  One would have wished that more aficionados of this genre were in attendance at the theatre; I found it most distressing to have mobile phones, flash camera lights and surly inattentive members of the Colombo audience intruding on the pleasure the artistes were well able to communicate and share. Pity!

Arun Dias Bandaranaike