Felix Yanov-Yanovskiy in the Context of Contemporary Opera Art
The Honoured Artist, professor Yanov-Yanovskiy is an extraordinary personality with a powerful intellect. He possesses a refined artistic taste and a multifaceted talent of a composer, performer and pedagogue.
Yanov-Yanovskiy always remains in a state of creative search, which shaped the evolution of his art. His performing activity as a violinist is linked with companies such as the State Symphony Orchestra and a string quartet organized in 1944 by N. E. Pover, comprising N. Pover, F. Yanov-Yanovskiy, A. Rutberg and G. Bostrem. In 1960s the quartet actively participated in the musical life of Uzbekistan and produced a significant impact upon further development of the country's musical culture.
Along with diverse creative activity Yanov-Yanovskiy gives much of his attention to pedagogical work. From 1961 to this day the composer works at the Department of Composition and Orchestration of the Tashkent State Conservatory.
The wide range of the composer's interests and his wealth of knowledge of both European classical and contemporary music, and Uzbek traditional music have enabled him to train more than one generation of talented Uzbek composers. Students have always been drawn to Yanov-Yanovskiy by his special attitude to work and creative potential of his trainees. His pedagogical work involved regular meetings and auditions of contemporary music he held at the Ashrafi Museum as well as at his home and at the Conservatory.
Felix Yanov-Yanovskiy has made several publications in which he introduced reidcrs to his views upon contemporary musical art (1).
The art of Yanov-Yanovskiy has many facets. He is the master of themes that can be lyrical and tragic, satirical and melancholically poetic. Some pieces are characterized by being refined, subtle and meditative, while others are intense and emotionally charged. The composer's works are distinguished by thoroughly considered detail, artistic mastery, and rationalism manifested in clarity and balance in how the musical thought develops.
Yanov-Yanovskiy who has mastered new stylistic trends is able to blend them naturally with classical tradition. He is equally skilled in both chamber and large symphony genres. The composer created symphonies, concerts, oratorios, operas, chamber instrumental and vocal music, music for theatre and cinema, and popular songs.
N. Chakhvadze notes that "His way of thinking is the one of a man at the centre of life that is rushing ahead. Hence the laconicism of expression when Yanov-Yanovskiy fills every instance of music with maximum information, the natural outcome of which is the appearance of compact forms" (2, pp. 6-7). These qualities are particularly characteristic of chamber genres, which have taken a deserved place in the composer's art. The analysis of his music enabled identifying the author's aspiration towards intensifying its chamber quality and deepening psychological sphere on the one hand, and gravitation towards large-scale, conceptual pieces of philosophic and dramatic orientation (four symphonies) on the other.
What we should note is the artist's interest in orchestra and its timbre capabilities. Symphony music of Yanov-Yanovskiy is characterized by wide genre diversity: it ranges from poem, symphony suite and symphonette to instrumental concerts and symphonies written by an already mature and accomplished artist.
The genre of concert interests Yanov-Yanovskiy in its contemporary interpretation. It is no accident that neoclassical trends of the 20th century *music are present in his works such as Concert for Orchestra (1973), Concert for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra (1984) (3, pp. 41-50), Concerto Grosso (1968), Simply Concert (1988), "Fabula"- the third concert for violin and orchestra (1992), Concertino for piano and orchestra (1990), In Tempo Sostenuto (2000), Immobilit (2004), Fabula 2 for violoncello and orchestra (2005), Nata-Waltz No. 1 and No.2 for orchestra (2005), Missa Brevis for 16 voices for a quire a capella (2004), and Music for Five - a Little Concert for alto oboe, two saxophones, marimba and double-bass (2004).
The crown of symphonic art of Yanov-Yanovskiy is his four symphonies: Symphony No.l (1982); Symphony No.2 (1986); Symphony No.3 for baritone and chamber orchestra based on the verses of Garcia Lorca (1990); and Symphony No.4 "DeProfundis".
A special significance in the art of Yanov-Yanovskiy is acquired by pieces created for theatre and stage, such as "Urashima Taro" ballet (2006), chamber operas "Petrushka the Foreigner", "The Orchestra", and "The Accompanist", and drama scenes "Salvation?" based on a radio-play by F. Havrevold, and "The Real Princes" (2007). Every one of his operas has its own original flavour.
"Petrushka the Foreigner" (1967), the comic opera for children, is the composer's first experience in this area. The composition turned out to be interesting not only for children, but also for adults. It outlined some stylistic peculiarities of the artist's opera style and helped these specific features to evolve. These, primarily, included the tendency of making the genre more chamber, laconicism of expression, and differentiated interpretation of the orchestra part.
"The Orchestra" opera and "The Accompanist" mono-opera continue the tradition of the genre in the context of contemporary art; in these works one can find both differences and common stylistic features. Both pieces are inspired by the plays of the same titles written by French dramatists J. Anuille and M. Mitois. Both plays expose the characters' inner world and social conflicts in the domain of art. Opera characters in "The Orchestra" are musicians in a provincial orchestra, and in "The Accompanist" it is a pianist who has long since quit stage as a solo performer and is ending his lifetime as an accompanist. The originality of the operas lies primarily in the fact that each of them presents a new (for Uzbekistan) genre type: a concert-opera that combines features of an opera proper and an instrumental concert, and a mono-opera. Genre specificities of the works, original conception and carefully considered action have determined the dramatic peculiarity of each of them.
In "The Orchestra" three dramaturgic lines can be distinguished. The first one is based on the drama of Susanne, Orthance and Leon (the love triangle). Another plot line is presented by the second plane characters (the domain of social and everyday life), against the background of which the dramatic action develops. The author is poeticising ordinary conversation of the characters. Whereas "cafe" music (instrumental interludes), being part of everyday life plane in the opera, is shaped into an independent dramaturgic line - the third, concert one. This is the one that also performs the function of dramaturgic contrasts, the material that makes one "step aside", and is the most important means to democratize musical language.
"The Accompanist" is a monologue opera. Here the composer reveals the inner psychological universe of the character Lucien Luke, his feelings, experiences and relations with the world around. Unlike the chamber opera "The Orchestra", the mono-opera does not have explicitly genre-specific episodes or interludes, and even if these are present, then it is only as allusions and symbols (the symbol of "death", symbol of "reality...). The only exception is the final part of the opera - cancan music of important semantic significance.
One of the key means employed in "The Orchestra" and "The Accompanist" operas is a recitative melody with its rich expressive potential. Among different types of recitative one can distinguish a "speech" type combined with arioso intonations (Susanne, Patricia, Orthance, Lucien Like). Notated and un-notated declamation is also occasionally used.
The main form of expression used by the characters of "The Orchestra" is dialogues smoothly flowing into other constructions. Laconicism and chamber style of the expressions enable one to identify tht'Ti as mini-monologues and mini-trios.
Orchestra in Yanov-Yanovskiy's operas is an equal rights participant of the action, performing a pictorial and expressive role. Following the vocal part, it deepens the emotional state of the characters. Leitmotifs in the operas sound primarily in the orchestra. Besides leitmotifs, the composer also resorts to the use of leit-timbres. For instance, piano is the main leit-timbre and the symbol of Lucien Luke in "The Accompanist", and his part (quotations from Rakhmaninov and Ravel) gently fit into the overall orchestra fabric.
In terms of its form, opera can be conventionally identified as rondo, the peculiarity of which lies in the combination of fragmented episodes (abrupt and frequent change of mood) and run-through development.
Thus, the originality and brilliance of composition ideas of Felix Yanov-Yanovskiy along with emotional expressivity and psychological insight of and careful consideration for the form enable one rating the composer's work as an outstanding phenomenon in the musical culture of Uzbekistan.