War through culture – music in Dresden

Photo: Dmytro Larin

Bitter are the backgrounds that Kiev Symphony Orchestra these days on a small tour of seven German concert halls, and paralyzing the thought of how little art and culture can do against a war of aggression. But surrendering to this powerlessness was not an option for Ukrainian musicians: “The best way to fight is to play,” said a violinist with the orchestra, Iulia Nieporozhnieva, last week.

In this regard, the opening concert on Monday in Dresden was intended as a unifying point of the nation. From Kulturpalast, which was almost sold out – many hundreds of the already 7,000 Ukrainian refugees who had arrived in Dresden in recent weeks were present – the music was broadcast on Dresden’s Schlossplatz and from “Deutsche Welle” (the station in Moscow is known to now classified as ‘foreign agent’) was broadcast live to over nine thousand other viewers worldwide via YouTube.

The program was cleverly designed. A symphony by Haydn’s contemporary Maxim Berezovsky (1745-1777), which was rediscovered at the Vatican a few years ago, initially showed how close Ukraine felt to European musical life at the time. For Ernest Chausson’s “Poem” for violin and orchestra, a small quarter-hour violin concerto, Diana Tishchenko, which was rehearsed in Kiev and Berlin, came out in front of the orchestra and gave the work a very sober, cool note with percussion. fast and sturdy access. The simple “melody” of Myroslav Skoryk (1938-2020) followed as an bis for the audience who applauded enthusiastically, in which the Ukrainian pain at home is practically composed. The orchestra, which was founded forty years ago and now consists mainly of musicians in their early and mid-twenties and which is organized under the auspices of the capital, was finally here in its element. This is where the musical heart of the ensemble beats, which has accompanied the “melody” of recent years important national holidays, such as the 25th anniversary of the Ukrainian constitution or the 30th anniversary of independence. Luigi Gaggero, chief conductor since 2018, allowed musicians to enjoy the passionate and sweet tone with pain.

The basic revelation of the evening followed in the second half of the concert, which was emotionally charged with the shouts of the audience (“Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”). From the first call, the atonal horn to the turbulent ending, the Third Symphony is inspired by what is perhaps the most important Ukrainian composer, Borys Lyatoshynsky (1894-1968). In the West he is probably best known as Walentyn Sylwestrow’s teacher. What a bold, furious, powerful work that comes with a great variety of tones reminiscent of many models from Richard Strauss to Alexander Scriabin. We are ashamed to admit that this composer, who, like Shostakovich, was caught up in the mills of Soviet cultural policy, appeared before the state after allegations of formalism – the Third Symphony is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the October Revolution – and wrote extensively about drawer, but has heard very little so far to have. “Slavic Concerto for Piano and Orchestra”, his fourth and fifth symphonies, but above all his chamber music are a whole new territory for many Westerners, awaiting an enthusiastic discovery. A recommendation for the curious: the nearly two-hour program “Performances: Boris Lyatoschinsky’s Third Symphony” (directed by Volker Tarnow), which has been available at the Deutschlandfunk Kultur media center since late March and creates a dense network of sounds. , composer biographies and exciting stories.
A patriotic ending of the evening: the national anthem of Ukraine was played to the applause of the public. Mychajlo Werbyzky’s tune must have been new to a large part of Dresden’s audience; The Ukrainian public, on the other hand, put their hands on their hearts and sang in a low voice: “Ukraine is not dead yet. We will sacrifice body and soul for our freedom. We will not allow anyone to rule our homeland. “Ukraine’s glory will spread among the peoples.”

26.4. Gewandhaus in Leipzig
27.4. Berlin Philharmonic
28.4. Kurhaus Wiesbaden
29.4. Freiburg Concert Hall
30.4. Dome Hall Hanover
1.5. Hamburg Elbphilharmonie

A text version of the article appeared in the latest Dresden News. We are grateful to the publishers for their good permission to republish it here.

Martin Morgenstern

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