Sunday, July 3, 2022

Berliner Philharmonie, Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße, Berlin

This collaboration was scheduled for May in Odesa but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put paid to that. Now in Berlin, fifty members of the YSO of Ukraine and thirty from the NYP of Germany got together for well-prepared and enthusiastic performances opening with a dashing and high-spirited Beethoven Creatures of Prometheus Overture, Artem Lonhinov setting a fizzing tempo without compromising unanimity, detail or dynamics. Next the twenty-minute Grazhyna (1955) by Lonhinov’s fellow-Ukrainian Boris Lyatoshynsky (1895-1968), romantic and slavishly programmatic, cinematically colourful if (to these ears) sadly lacking in anything engaging despite a dedicated performance. Finally, Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony, the undemonstrative if scrupulous Lonhinov (he’s also a violinist) leading an exuberant and sympathetic account, the opening measures for once not hived-off as a slow introduction, and from there plenty of Slavonic fire, tender lyricism, gracious if flowing dance rhythms and first-past-the-post sprinting not least the electrifying final pages, played with skill and confidence. As an encore, Vater Unser (Our Father) by Rihards Dubra, a solemnly beautiful a cappella setting (for which the percussion section returned), ancient in style from a Latvian composer born in 1964, and a sobering foil to the Symphony.

The concert is free to watch on