Vitalij Kuprij - Forward And Beyond
The last album published by Shrapnel Records was a "romantic meeting" titled "Works of Liszt & Chopin" (2001) with classical music for piano. Since his third solo album passed five years, but Vitalij didn't rest on his laurels. He played many concerts, recorded no one album, and cooperated with many great artists. Finally, the fans of Ukrainian artistry got what they wanted! He moved to new label called Lion Music from Finland and found shelter in Lars Eric Mattsson's arms, haha. With "FAB" Vitalij set a crossbar as high as never before. Vitalij felt so strong that he recorded keys, drums and synth bass (which sound doesn't interfere with listening). Besides, he gave one guitarist up in favour of eight virtuosos. The calculation is simple. An Ukrainian managed to gather the powerful army of talented guitarists with whom he has already cooperated (George Bellas, Javier Leal, Roger Staffelbach; the ladder graduated from Jazz Music School in Luzern and Guitar Institute of Technology in California) and had an opportunity to play first time (Michael Romeo, Michael Harris, Jeff Kollmann, Borislav Mitic, Francesco Fareri). Yeah, a "music cake" was enriched by "virtuosic cream" in the form of the mighty eight.
Since I don't want to be beside the point, I am moving to the heart of the matter. The title track was assigned to Mr. Bellas (famous for Kuprij's second solo release). The start is performed quieto, then a tempo is being changed subito, and a guitar goes appasionato (passionately). Then we have keys playing con callera (furiously) and guitar arpeggios. Bellas plays con affetto (emotionally), creating fairylike atmosphere from the cover, then - carries on pesante (languidly) and accelerates brillante. Guitar-keys passages are, speaking Mozart's tongue, a real Meisterwerk. In "Piano Overture" we meet with very progressive style represented by Michael Romeo of Symphony X. Here are guitar parts accelerando subito (suddenly accelerating), some fragments being played espressivo (with a deep affection) and all'unisono doppio tempo (faster twice by instruments simultaneously). Here is also a refrence to a very dynamic Chopin's "Etude in C sharp minor, op. 10" and extremely fast guitar-keys passages. "Time Will Tell" is a continuation of progressive style by Michael Harris who is able to "extend" some tones very interestingly. Such a way of articulation delays the composition development. That "gap" is filled by Vitalij playing animando (livening tempo up). Mr. Harris used response effect, playing impromptus together with Vitalij. When Harris was playing more complex parts, I had an impression as he'd been rewarded with applause for his performance. It is a very interesting method of payment for virtuoso's effort, haha. Jeff Kollman, who can make us think of jazz/fusion genre, played in "Variations in D Minor". It is a composition in which Kuprij refers to "Symphony No. 40 in G minor" KV 550 (an abbreviation "KV" shall be explained as "Köchel-Verzeichnis" - deriving from the name of an Austrian musicographician Ludwig Köchel who is the author of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's works catalogue). If I shall be more exact, it is a refrence to its movement Molto Allegro (very fast). A guitarist plays allegro, maestoso (solemnly) and doloroso. We can also hear keys "taken out" from baroque for a moment. In "Far From Home", we meet another Kuprij's familiar - Javier Leal (of "Promised Land" project). He starts playing a classical guitar, then changes it for an electric one playing affettuoso. The track is of progressive character, played at the mid-tempo and supported by a guitar playing avvivando. "Phantom Flurries" is a piano interlude, being a show of Vitalij's skills at the same time. Stopping and taking a deep breath, then let's follow an Ukrainian further. Michael Harris appeared again in "Solar Impact". It's necessary to mention that the tracks 7-10 have fluent transitions bwtween themselves, that's why that part of the album can be regarded as instrumentally concept-esque. Coming back to "Solar Impact", we must admit that it is played at the speed of light indeed. Additionally, here are: very fast parts performed all'unisono, imitations of church organs that introduce the mysterious atmosphere, then a guitar and keys playing animando. We can also find here slower moments. As its title announces, there is a "solar impact" at the end, and a fluent transition to "Illusion" in which Vitalij plays solo adagio (slowly) in the mood of Kitaro's music. Thus, it is a very relaxing track. "Message Of Hope" is a composition being a mixture of temperaments of various nationalities: Ukrainian (Kuprij), Swiss (Staffelbach), Balkan (Mitic) and Italian (Fareri). Mentioned track is performed tutta la forza (with full force) and agitazione (thunderously). And yet here is roles' division: Staffelbach plays lead guitar, however the first solo part is performed by Mitic, the next one by Fareri who plays legato (without breaks between notes). Here are wonderful key-guitars duels, and a whole composition is performed energico and presto (very fast) with all'unisono ending. It is one of the most complex track in Vitalij's solo output. Aformentioned number fluently moves on to "Idol Tribute" in which an Ukrainian pays homage to his masters. It is a kind of medley in which we are able to hear some fragments inspired by great composers' works from the past. I am delighted with a fluency between keys' passages. Vitalij mainly plays doloroso and alla militare (at military march tempo), creating a real marriage of contrasts. I have just qualified that track as a medley, but I am pretty sute that it can also be described as quodlibet, i.e. a kind of musical trick being a combination of famous melodies. In that case, it is so-called monophonic quodlibet, and it means that individual fragments are followed one by one. What excerpts are explored by Vitalij? There are references to: Ludwig van Beethoven (the start of "5th Symphony in C minor, op. 67 - Allegro con brio" (fast and briskly); "Sonata in C sharp minor, op. 27 No. 2" a.k.a. "Moonlight Sonata", and precisely its first movement - "Adagio sostenuto" (slowly and tempo-restraining); Wolfi Mozart again and his "Symphony No. 40 in G minor" plus very famous "Rondo alla turca", deriving from "Sonata No. 11 in A major" KV 331; Frederic Chopin's "Polonaise in C sharp minor, op. 26 No. 1" and Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninov's excerpt from "Moderato" of "2nd Piano Concerto in C minor, op. 18". That's a true volcano of musical emotions!
I am not capable of distinguishing any tracks, because all of them are up to world's scratch. With such an enormous back of instrumentalists, Vitalij could only record a masterpiece. It was really done. I think that here are most classical references of all Vitalij's solo CDs. The all eight of them readjusted in Vitalij's kingdom of music and it is the next proof of his output's universality. Yep, he proved his "key-esque hegemony" in the world. The keyboard throne belongs to him so far and I think it will be very hard to dethrone him, haha. He recorded another Meisterstück, confirming us in the conviction that he is the king of all kings. I wish it were so long.