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Saturday, February 4, 2023

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“A Night for Ukraine”: This is her music

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Yes, of course you can say: If the concert hall organizes “A Night for Ukraine”, as part of the festival “Aus den Fugen” – then that’s no more than symbolic politics, what good does it do the people in the shelled, bombed cities, waiting for a horror winter without electricity and heat? Nevertheless, such actions are important: so that we can find out more about the near, distant country that we didn’t know and still don’t really know, and quite specifically for the many Ukrainians in the hall, to whom this music really means something. And if only beautiful symphonies would continue to be played, wouldn’t the first thing that come up is that the concert halls are retreating into ivory towers, refusing to accept the upheavals of the present?

As if Jackson Pollock just stopped by

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The podium is dotted with huge splashes of blue and yellow paint, as if Jackson Pollock just stopped by. A string quartet from the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, which has already been heard in the same venue at Young Euro Classic, appears from behind, playing a chorale by Bach: “Give us peace” (from BWV 126): sad, touching.

Of course, it is primarily pieces by Ukrainian composers that are heard, but the fact that Ukraine is also part of Europe is to be demonstrated with Bach – and with two pieces by Maurice Ravel, “Pavane pour une infant défunte” and the concert rhapsody “Tzigane” for violin and orchestra. Soloist Diana Tishchenko plays it very concisely, mastering the rapid figurations in the finale with ease. In the subsequent A minor tune by Myroslav Skoryk from the film High Mountain Pass (1978) – some call it the unofficial national anthem of Ukraine – she shows that she is also proficient in another style, marked by the elegiac -extensive arches.

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The focus of the evening is a suite by Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912), who is considered the “father of Ukrainian music” and in his op. 2 used folk themes for baroque dances. Conductor Nataliia Stets, as she stands there straight on the podium, appears extremely strict, almost like a soldier, but that’s good for the music, she has the young musicians well under control. With blazing mezzo, Zoryana Kushpler sings a series of very similar songs by Anatoliy Kos-Anatolsky or Yuliy Meitus before the evening builds to a late climax.

Who knows “Schchedryk”? Answer: Everyone! The English-speaking world appropriated it as “Carol of the Bells”, John Williams processed it in “Home Alone”, but actually the simple song with the extremely distinctive motif, which only comprises a minor third, has its origins in the Ukraine, is sung there for the New Year celebrations in mid-January – and now in the Konzerthaus. The hall is bubbling, you can physically feel how much the people present feel that this is “their” music. And when she always forms a heart with her hands, like the imprisoned Maria Kolesnikova did in Belarus, she must have definitely won the hearts of her audience.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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