May 16, 2011Vol. 41, Issue 6

Pianist Natalya Shkoda Releases New CD

This year, Shkoda will release her second CD, The Complete Piano Sonatas by Viktor Kosenko, which is the premiere recordings of Ukrainian composer, pianist, and instructor Viktor Stepanovych Kosenko’s three piano sonatas composed between 1919 and 1929.

“The sonatas are dramatic virtuosic piano pieces in the minor keys,” says Shkoda. “The musical style of these pieces is a masterly combination of the achievements of Western European classical music with the elements of Ukrainian folk music.”

Shkoda, who has studied, taught, and performed in both the United States and Ukraine, is drawn to music that combines elements from both cultures. She began playing the piano when she was not yet 7 years old and presented her first solo recital at 13. Shkoda came to the United States in 1999 to pursue a Master of Music in piano performance at Arizona State University. She also received her doctorate from Arizona State.

Shkoda has had a special interest in Kosenko’s music since it became the main subject of her research for her doctoral dissertation. Her debut CD was the first Western recording of Kosenko’s Eleven Etudes in the Form of Old Dances, Op. 19. It was released by London record label Toccata Classics in 2006. Classical Music Guide said of her performance, “Natalya Shkoda is polished and involved emotionally in every respect and possesses a full command of her keyboard.”

Her new CD, which will be released June 1, is the second volume in what she refers to as her “Kosenko recording project.”

“My new CD is the second step in rediscovering the beautiful but still virtually unknown piano music by Viktor Kosenko,” says Shkoda. “I know that many people around the world were looking forward to this recording coming out for the past few years. I hope the listeners will like the sonatas and be happy with my continuing dedication to promoting Kosenko’s music.”

Although Shkoda appreciates all three pieces on her new CD, she feels a special fondness for Sonata No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 13, which Kosenko recorded in his early 20s.

“The first sonata is a grand, emotionally rich piece, with complex technique and overall structure,” says Shkoda. “It took me a significant amount of time to create a convincing interpretation for it. I had to rethink this piece many times before arriving at the final artistic decision, and maybe this is why this sonata is so special to me.”

Shkoda has performed solo, accompanying, and chamber music recitals in the Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, France, and United States in addition to soloing with orchestras in New York, Arizona, and California. Although she greatly enjoys performing, Shkoda says she loves sharing her expertise and passion for music and piano with her students and enjoys reaching out to them on a personal level.

“I like working with people and sharing my love about music with them,” says Shkoda.

Many of her students have followed in her footsteps, winning awards and competitions and being accepted into prestigious music programs at universities nationwide. In March 2011, Naoko Terakado, a recording arts and music major and student of Shkoda’s, took second place in this year’s Kruschke competition.

“Thanks to the enthusiastic and thorough instruction of Dr. Shkoda, I rediscovered joy in playing the piano, which I had learned for 10 years in Japan and quit five years ago,” says Terakado.

Shkoda says she enjoys helping her students practice for competitive events because she gets to witness how much they develop and improve as performers during the months of preparation.  

“I like seeing progress in my students and being able to help them grow on both musical and personal levels,” she says. “I am happy when my students perform well. If my students perform well and get rewarded, I am happy twice.”

—Katie Mills, intern, Public Affairs and Publications