Nadia Jacobchuk


The article deals with the phenomenon of program chamber-instrumental music of the contemporary Ukrainian composer Alexander Jacobchuk. Program music as an aesthetical category is naturally connected with composer’s creativity and is a tangent to the problem of music understanding, because of this is actual for the musicology. Program music always was in a centre of researches of the Ukrainian musicologists, such as Mr. A. Mukha (he examined the specification principle of image content in music), Ms. L. Kiyanovska (she researched the music perception problem as well as the program functions), Ms. O. Frayt (she explored types of program music and the sources of composers inspiration).

Alexander Jacobchuk made his own debut in chamber-instrumental genre as early as in student years. The "Folk Scene" (1972) was written for wood wind quartet. This composition, built on the themes of two Ukrainian folk songs, is the example of folklore program music (after classification of Ms. O. Frayt).

Later in 2010, he wrote the trio "Moonlight" for violin, cello and piano, in which names of the movements (I – "Moonbeams on lake Ontario", II – "Niagara river at night", III – "Moonrise in Muskoka") specified landscape images. "Portuguese suite" for oboe and piano belongs to the same period of composer’s work (2012). The suite presents Alexander Jacobchuk’s program approach to the genre model of suite cycle. An oboe timbre is of great importance for understanding the image sphere of this composition because its wood wind sounding is very close to Portuguese folk wind instruments. In Portuguese folk music, wind instruments occupy a considerable place together with the local variety of classical guitar, castanets, concertino (a small harmonica). Among the most favourite and widespread – wind palheta shawn – a kind of a pan-pipe, traverse – familiar with a transversal flute, and also Galicia bagpipe – which looks like a scotch bagpipe. An oboe timbre description depends on the sounding register, on the ensemble content. For example, if oboe plays with piano – oboe sounds as concert solo instrument; but in case to play with piano, which imitates guitar accompaniment, oboe sounds differently. M. Rimsky-Korsakov, for the first time, gave a term "space of expressive sounding", which determines that part of register, where the instrument sounds the better. In the suite, the most interesting episodes are where oboe plays solo cadences with oriental melody colour. The "Portuguese suite" consists of three movements: I – "Sailor’s dreams", which has lyric thoughtful character; on a quiet piano flow, reminding very light oscillation of waves, an oboe melody line, gradually activating, formed in emotionally expressive theme. This movement finishes with soft piano cluster. And exactly with this retained cluster attacca begins the II movement – "Sailor’s Song", which by the romantic mood is close to fadu – Portuguese folk song genre. Piano chords in lower register are perceived as guitar accompaniment for oboe melody. Such imitation of guitar sounding is achieved by original piano effect – playing chords arpeggiato secco on a background of cluster. This bright effect, almost forgotten by modern composers, Alexander Jacobchuk used before in Prelude in gis (polyphonic cycle "12 Preludes and Fugues" for piano, 1983). III movement – "Sailor’s Dance", where the character of cheerful simple dance was created and where the piano chords, imitating sounding of string-nip instruments (mandolin, guitar), bring in the Mediterranian colour. In the "Portuguese suite" for oboe and piano by A. Jacobchuk the program principle connected all three-movement composition in a strong cycle. The composer extended genre possibilities of program suite by revision of traditional contrast principles, offering own example: Largo – Lento con moto – Allegretto.

"Spanish suite" for classical wind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn) was written by Alexander Jacobchuk in 2006; program music principle is also applied here. The suite cycle, consisting of three movements, starts from Andante non troppo "Bells in Twilight", which draw a romantic gloomy time of desisting nature, watching for the night. Tender sounding of "D" by French horn pp with gradual adding the voices of bassoon, oboe, clarinet make the effect of pulsating space, like sounding of bell ringing. II movement – "Tonight’s Dance" has unique bright Spanish colour, where the composer used rhythmic basis of Spanish dance, but melodic material is original. III movement – "Sounds at Midnight" gives a sonore picture of night landscape. Refinement of rhythms, great cascade of expressive sound images cause the appearance of mysterious romantic Spain. The interesting sounding of this movement comes from changing solo episodes with ensemble playing, by correlation of melody and accompaniment (which sounds in higher register than the melody line), by pedal effects also.

Thus, in author’s style of contemporary Ukrainian composer Alexander Jacobchuk program music plays an important role, forming the vivid system of suite cycle. "Portuguese suite" for oboe and piano is the example of program music of pictorial type, where the program principle connects all composition to achieve integrity of the cycle. "Spanish suite" for the classical wind quintet presents the synthetic type of program principle: pictorial (gloomy landscape of the I movement), descriptive (III movement sounds of night time, bells from the I movement), folklore (rhythms of folk dance from the II movement). 


program music; suite; chamber-instrumental ensemble; Alexander Jacobchuk; Ukrainian music