Music / CIMF, Concert 18, “A Candle For Ukraine”. At Fitters’ Workshop, May 6. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

THE composer Valentin Silvestrov was forced to flee his home in Kyiv in early 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

From his new base in Berlin, he continues to represent his country’s cultural identity with quiet determination.

“Silent Songs” is his most famous work, a song cycle set to timeless poetry by the likes of Pushkin, Shelley, Baratynsky, Shevchenko, Yesenin and Keats.

Sydney-born tenor Andrew Goodwin became the first Australian to study classical singing at St Petersburg State Conservatory in Russia. He has gone on to a busy international career singing at some of the world’s greatest opera houses and concert halls.

Roland Peelman studied in Belgium and Germany. Emigrating to Australia in 1984, he has worked with many organisations such as Opera Australia, Opera Queensland and the Song Company. He is currently the artistic director of the Canberra International Music Festival.

On a stage surrounded by flickering candles, Goodwin and Peelman presented most of this song cycle to a spellbound audience. The songs were sung in Russian.

Each song seemed more beautiful than the last as they created an extraordinary atmosphere of calm with their singing and playing.

Based on the works of poets renowned for their romantic, reflective and beautiful words, Silvestrov’s music has a timeless, universal quality that lifts these words to an almost dream-like state.

Goodwin maintained an impressive stillness as he sang, allowing the words and music to weave their spell. He appeared to be so relaxed and his fine singing of the high, sustained notes seemed effortless.It was a superb performance throughout.

Peelman accompanied the singer with a quiet sensitivity. There were often long passages at the end of the songs that continued without voice, allowing you to concentrate for a few moments just on Silvestrov’s restrained, beautiful music.

At the end of the concert, the attentive audience sat for a few moments without making a sound before bursting into rapturous applause.

Feature image: In “A Candle for Ukraine”, tenor Andrew Goodwin performs with Roland Peelman (piano). Photo: Peter Hislop

This review was originally written and published by LEN POWER from CityNews on 06 May 2023.