For those searching for new music with Ukrainian texts, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Testament (2017), for soprano and orchestra, sets Ukrainian poetry on the subject of oppression and exile. The three chosen poets span the imperial, Soviet and modern eras, including Serhiy Zhadan, Vasyl Stus and Taras Shevchenko, whose poem Testament prompted the work’s title. Turnage’s work is available in English translation or in the original Ukrainian. It has been performed under the baton of Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits and has been sung by Natalya Romaniw, Olga Pasichnyk and Tatiana Miyus.
“…a prolonged cry of defiance against the oppression suffered by Ukraine at Russian hands down the centuries… It takes the form of settings of four poems, the earliest of which was written in Tsarist times, when the language was banned. Another was written by a poet who died in a Soviet labour camp; the latest is about the conflict in the Donetsk region… The note of protest and lament resounds through all of them.”
“…this 25-minute work explores themes of war and displacement via text by three Ukraine-born poets who span the imperial, Soviet and modern eras… Turnage’s choices are strong and urgent. So is his music, at times stark and explosive, as at the start of ‘Weep, sky, weep’, yet lyrical too, with evocative, sombre low woodwind, piano, celesta, harp and bells… a thrilling Turnage premiere.”
“He’s woven Ukrainian folk songs into the score: pairs of woodwinds lament in close harmony and a solo flute trails birdsong across the eloquent vocal lines... The final song deals harrowingly with recent events, and tastes all the more bitter for being so lucid, and so obviously without any musical agenda other than compassion.”
> More info