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ISSUE 119 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/14/2005

Musical sibling harmony

By Amy Wicks
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 14, 2005

When Oleg Pokhanovski walked onto the stage of Urness Recital Hall, dropped his bow to the strings of his violin and began to play the light, quick, slightly ethereal passages of Pietro Locatelli’s “Labyrinth,” it was immediately clear that this recital would be special.

When violist Mikhail Pokhonovski joined his brother Oleg, the flawless blend of their two instruments, violin and viola, reinforced that notion. The Pokhanovski brothers presented a range of repertoire that amazed their audience Tuesday evening.

Born in Russia, the Pokhanovskis began playing music at a young age, under the tutelage of their uncle. Both brothers attended prestigious music schools.

At six, Oleg gave his first performance on violin, playing with the Kuybyshev Symphony in Russia. Later, Oleg was invited to study at the Julliard School of Music, and Mikhail toured with various orchestras.

Both brothers are accomplished, award-winning musicians. They now teach at the University of Manitoba, and according to Oleg, rarely return home.

Their Tuesday performance included a variety of works by Bach, Wieniawski, Paganini, Haydn and Mozart. The night began with Oleg playing solo violin, but he was not without surprises.

After playing Bach’s “Chaconne from Partita in D minor,” he moved to the piano to play an arrangement he composed of the same piece for piano. What was a dynamic piece for violin became a compelling, rich piano solo.

The brothers do not always perform together, so Tuesday’s recital was special in that respect. Many of the pieces they played together Oleg arranged for violin and viola.

The sound of their two instruments – the sweet, sometimes piercing violin, and the richer, mellow viola – mingled together perfectly. The viola was like a breath of air beneath the flights of the violin.

One of Oleg’s solo pieces, Niccolo Paganini’s “Nel cor più non mi sento,” amazed the audience with its dramatic mingling of lyric passages and staccatos. Momentary pauses teased the audience before the music continued.

In another piece, during a pause after a passage that had Oleg’s fingers flying up and down the bridge, one audience member sighed a little too loudly, “Oh, gosh!”

The program ended with both brothers performing Oleg’s newest arrangement, “Caprice op. 1 no. 17.” After hearty applause, Oleg and Mikhail returned to play one last Haydn piece as an encore.

The technical and lyrical skills of the Pokhanovski brothers left their listeners astounded and pleased.

The brothers will travel to Germany and Serbia for performances in November. They will also be recording a new album soon.

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