Lubomyr Melnyk: Corollaries
Erased Tapes has done a wonderful thing in bringing pianist Lubomyr Melnyk's music and playing to the masses on this hour-long collection, which was recorded and produced in Berlin by Peter Broderick and also features his contributions on four of the album's five pieces. The press material describes Melnyk as the “pioneer of Continuous Piano Music,” and the recording more than bears that out in its focus on the multi-layered, harmonic waves that his playing generates. Of Ukrainian origin, the classically trained Melnyk was clearly influenced by the minimalist movement of the ‘70s but has nevertheless imposed his own euphonious stamp on the tradition. His playing washes over the listener, bathing him/her in fluid, unbroken streams that modulate smoothly and evolve organically. A lustrous, shimmering soundworld results that eschews dissonance for a harmonious and chiming style that can be soul-stirring.
Broderick's presence is audibly felt in the opening “Pockets of Light” in the violin shadings that subtly complement Melnyk's playing and most explicitly in the brief vocal episode that gently surfaces seven minutes into the nineteen-minute piece. Rather than detracting from the delicate mood established by the hypnotic piano patterns, Broderick's unadorned singing proves to be an enhancement, and the re-appearance of the violin in the piece's closing moments closes the circle effectively, too. “A Warmer Place” opts for a comparatively more restrained approach that finds Melnyk and Broderick fashioning a wondrous moodscape of tinkling keyboard patterns and ambient violin textures.
In keeping with its title, “Nightrail From the Sun” unspools at a more aggressive pace but is most notable for the distance it creates between its sound and the album's other offerings. Here the piano patterns sound somewhat de-naturalized, as if altered electronically, and accompanying elements, though understated in nature, likewise seem more electrical than natural. Such alterations do add contrast, but they also end up taking away from the beauty of the piano's natural sonority.
Broderick's violin playing appears most prominently on “Le Miroir d'amour,” with Melnyk acting more as a restrained accompanist on the beautifully mournful piece. During the opening minutes, the pianist largely sets aside his continuous playing but then re-introduces it to flesh out the material as it moves towards its grandiose conclusion. But perhaps the album's most impressive piece is the one featuring the pianist solo: “The Six Day Moment,” wherein his dramatic playing produces a heartfelt and melancholy music of intense emotional impact. Hearing the almost subliminal way by which its thematic material gradually comes into focus is one of the album's high points. It's Melnyk's music at its purest and the effect, especially when sustained for the full measure of its eleven minutes, is exquisite.