Solo piano music seems perfectly fitted for winter, but we don’t often think of the reasons why. Perhaps it is because the music is stark like a winter landscape; because the white keys are reminiscent of snow; because the sounds reverberate around empty rooms like the shouts of children across a vast field; or because the very idea of “solo” intimates a cold, concentrated isolation. For whatever reason, Five Songs resonates with winter emotion, as does the cover: a deserted bench which looks like a snow-covered keyboard, waiting for a guest to arrive.
The suite is based on a poem by Ukrainian poet Ivan Androschuk, titled Мы с Вами где-то встречались and loosely translated “We Have Met Somewhere”. The poem is hopeful, suffused with a nagging nostalgia: two rays of a cold star flew in a cold space, crossed in mirrors … The poet is writing about connection and coincidence, seeming to state that time and tense are fluid. Fellow Ukrainian Alex Sakevych (Endless Melancholy, less melancholy than expected) brings the poem to life through improvised phrases and soft-spoken melodies, often repeating a passage until suddenly jumping over to a new, unexpected branch. Never is this more apparent than on the closing piece, “Nostalgia”. But the true star of the EP may be less the playing itself than the sound of the keys shifting, the pedals being pressed; one imagines the snow, the ivory keys, the lonely Ukrainians connected across time. (Richard Allen)