Lubomyr Melnyk is the Ukrainian composer and pianist who makes beautiful long-form music. We noted The Voice Of Trees in 2012, a composition for two pianos and three tubas released on the Swiss label Hinterzimmer Records. They also put out Windmills (HINT 19) in 2013, of which the main event is ‘Windmills (For 2 Pianos)’, performed by the composer and recorded in “Omni-Sonic sound”, presumably the better to help us enjoy the sonorous nature of this deep and rich music.
‘Windmills’ is a very old-fashioned narrative piece, telling the story of an old windmill and based on Melnyk interpretation of an early Walt Disney animated cartoon. Presumably this is The Old Mill, a 1937 Silly Symphony directed by Wilfred Jackson with music by Leigh Harline. The sleeve note to this Hinterzimmer release gilds the lily somewhat, by giving us a written description of the visuals which ought to be conjured by the music, and treat us to such heavy-handed gems of prose such as “we hear the massive but worn gears begin to toil as the wind wakes the windmill from sleep…”. This feels rather like school magazine English literature and doesn’t really do the music any favours on this occasion. But it also brings home to me how prosaic Melnyk’s music can be. I enjoyed the transcendent majesty of The Voice Of Trees, but this music seems to be making one simple statement over and over again, and stretching it out for 45 minutes. However, I don’t object to the romance and beauty of these simple arpeggios and repeated phrases, and Melnyk’s sustained performances are clearly fuelled by passion and belief, not just stamina.