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Making the case for cultural freedom with their devices, the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra on the Proms – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United Kingdom BBC Proms 2022 [12], Promenade 19a – Silvestrov, Chopin, Beethoven, Brahms: Anna Fedorova (piano), Liudmyla Monastyrska (soprano), Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra / Keri-Lynn Wilson (conductor). Recorded (directed by ) on the Royal Albert Corridor, London, 31.7.2022. Accessible on BBC iPlayer. (JPr)

The Ukranian Freedom Orchestra performed by Keri-Lynn Wilson  © Mark Allan/BBC

Valentin Silvestrov – Symphony No.7
Chopin – Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor
Beethoven – ‘Abscheulicher! … Komm, Hoffnung, lass den letzten Stern’ (Fidelio)
Brahms – Symphony No.4 in E minor

I’m watching my Proms this summer time on TV and have pledged to not touch upon the standard of their presentation however the phrases of Petroc Trelawny tells you all it’s good to learn about this particular occasion. He started: ‘At this time on the BBC Proms Ukrainian musicians come collectively in defence of creative freedom and liberty. Greater than 70 musicians acquired the decision, many left family members on the entrance line, they picked up their devices they usually started to play. The Proms marks the primary cease on their worldwide tour, in what’s to be an historic live performance we welcome the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra.’ Persevering with, ‘It’s greater than 5 months for the reason that struggle in Ukraine started and at the moment the nation’s classical musicians are to the fore. They’ve come to London from Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odessa and plenty of different Ukrainian cities and cities. Some have lived away from their homeland for a while taking part in in nice orchestras and ensembles world wide. Others have had their lives turned the other way up and have stayed in Ukraine all through the struggle and are actually making the case for cultural freedom with their devices.’

These days the stalemate between Ukraine and Russia is basically forgotten on this nation and people who are the newest celebrities to join this autumn’s return of Strictly Come Dancing get extra protection within the mainstream media. The present price of residing disaster and imminent recession within the UK has been primarily fuelled (!) by the struggle, however what number of occasions do you hear that talked about too? I doubt the individuals who actually must be reminded of Ukraine’s plight can be those that go to their live shows or watch this (and others?) on TV. A minimum of the reverence afforded to the string association of the Ukrainian Nationwide Anthem by Ukrainian composer Yuri Shevchenko will go an extended method to present the help for political and cultural freedom that all of us want for the peoples of Ukraine. Shevchenko channelled Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen he wrote as an elegy to the mindless destruction of life and tradition within the Second World Struggle (appears all too acquainted). As musicians and audiences stood and listened, the strings led by the sombre violin of Marko Komonko introduced a heightened depth of emotion to what we heard which was lacking elsewhere on this live performance with its flag-waving Final Night time of the Proms environment.

The Ukranian Freedom Orchestra on the BBC Proms 2022 © Mark Allan/BBC

Regardless, it’s all somewhat critic-proof and it could be completely mistaken to forensically assessment the practically two hours of music performed with out an interval. Just one work from a Ukrainian composer was programmed (two in the event you embody the Nationwide Anthem) however the pianist Anna Fedorova and soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska are Ukrainian and Canadian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson claims Ukrainian descent. Valentin Silvestrov’s 2003 Seventh Symphony is a brief, unsentimental, one-movement work. I could also be accused of extra Mahler-spotting however there may be various that composer’s spectral bleakness and sense of resignation: whereas the ideas that every one will not be misplaced is ushered in by a prolonged piano cadenza earlier than the music offers up the ghost and fades out on the finish. The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra proved themselves an completed ensemble beneath the somewhat inflexible beat, right here and all through all their music, of Keri-Lynn Wilson.

I’m certain each piano concerto has its personal technical calls for however Chopin’s 1830 No.2 supplied a beautiful showcase for Fedorova’s virtuosity and at some moments her palms had been ablur along with her quicksilver runs alongside the keyboard. The opening Maestoso started quietly and have become extra tempestuous total, it’s lyrical and melodious with any depth primarily within the orchestral accompaniment. The Larghetto is one thing of nice magnificence, and impressed by Polish soprano Konstancja Gładkowska, the soloist’s position is a song-like one. The Allegro vivace finale is a trill-fest and there’s a trace of a dance, the music turns into quietly meditative earlier than the piano ends the concerto with a flourish.

Leonore’s ‘Abscheulicher! … Komm, Hoffnung, lass den letzten Stern’ from Beethoven’s Fidelio was described within the commentary as crammed with anger and rage, then hope and freedom. I’m certain Liudmyla Monastyrska will make extra of the German phrases because the tour progresses and talk that to higher to audiences.

As I’ve nothing to check it in opposition to, I assumed Brahms’s 1885 Fourth Symphony sounded completely ‘good’ and well-played by the orchestra. The opening Allegro non troppo noticed Wilson nearly dancing on the rostrum throughout its serene opening, though the music takes a darker flip in direction of the top of the motion. My be aware urged an japanese character to the Andante moderato which I later found was a theme in Phrygian mode and the motion adopts a measured tread, climaxes and subsides. Brahms requires lush strings and the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra excels right here. The Allegro giocoso is clearly the scherzo and undoubtedly joyful, ending in a rousing vogue. The final motion (Allegro energico e passionate) is a symphonic passacaglia starting with some portentous brass and it builds inexorably to a conclusion which the commentary urged had allowed pleasure and hope to banish deep gloom. Music has the facility to do that briefly however can’t present any lasting repair to a troubled and fractured world.

Jim Pritchard

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