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‘Music of consolation, energy and hope’ in A Live performance for Ukraine from the Metropolitan Opera – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United States Varied, A Live performance for Ukraine: Soloists, Refrain and Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera / Yannick Nézet-Séguin (conductor). Broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera Home on 14.3.2022 and out there right here by 21.3.2022. (JPr)

Façade of the Lincoln Middle

Mykhailo Verbytsky – Nationwide Anthem of Ukraine (Vladyslav Buialskyi, bass-baritone)
Valentin Silvestrov – ‘Prayer for Ukraine’
Barber – Adagio for Strings
Verdi – ‘Va, pensiero’ (Nabucco)
R. Strauss – 4 Final Songs (Lise Davidsen, soprano): ‘Frühling’ (‘Spring’); ‘September’; ‘Beim Schlafengehen’ (‘When Falling Asleep’); ‘Im Abendrot’ (‘At Sundown’)
Beethoven – Finale from Symphony No.9, Op.125 (Elza van den Heever [soprano], Jamie Barton [mezzo-soprano], Piotr Beczała [tenor] and Ryan Speedo Inexperienced [bass-baritone])

Launched by Met radio host, Deborah Lew More durable, we learnt that for this A Live performance for Ukraine with ‘Music of consolation, energy and hope’ listeners have been being joined dwell by the Ukrainian Public Broadcasting Firm and all proceeds have been going to help aid efforts in Ukraine. The façade of the Lincoln Middle, we have been informed, was draped in an infinite blue and yellow Ukrainian flag, while hanging above the proscenium was one other flag specifically constructed by the Met and all of the performers have been sporting blue and yellow ribbons pinned to their live performance apparel. The Met’s basic supervisor Peter Gelb then made a press release: ‘The members of the Metropolitan Opera Firm stand in solidarity with the proud Ukrainian folks, so robust and brave [strong applause] within the face of such injustice, destruction and dying. We pray for many who have died or suffered accidents; for many who stand tall preventing for his or her nation; for these struggling to outlive despite relentless assaults; and for many who have misplaced their houses; and for the three million refugees spreading throughout Europe separated from their family members and hoping to quickly return to their beloved homelands.’ Gelb continued, ‘Music presents solace for humanity, nevertheless it additionally might be weaponised towards oppression. Tonight we’re all troopers of music.’

If the event wasn’t vital sufficient it was great to listen to – I used to be listening not seeing in fact – the 100-strong Met Refrain and Orchestra, performed by their music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, so united and with the travails of the shutdown of the too latest previous seemingly one thing of a fading reminiscence. Clearly, the live performance was mainly criticproof and it might be churlish to overview it as a ‘correct’ one however since I’ve learn feedback elsewhere, I’ll simply give a couple of reflections on what I heard. Bass-baritone Vladyslav Buialskyi has lately made his Met debut and his mom and grandmother have been described by More durable as being ‘underneath siege in Ukraine’ and he sang the Ukraine nationwide anthem that has rapidly grow to be the anthem of the anti-Russia (Putin?) coalition. This was music of ‘energy’, stirring and patriotic and given a defiant rendition by Buialskyi and the Met Refrain.

Conversely, Valentin Silvestrov’s ‘Prayer for Ukraine’ – an a cappella refrain written in response to the 2014 rebellion – introduced a few of the promised ‘consolation’ with music, splendidly sung once more, that was elegiac and contemplatively melancholic. It was Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings which offered a sure comfort and solace, regardless of its general temper of resignation, loss and mourning. We then heard the very acquainted refrain ‘Va, pensiero’ from Verdi’s Nabucco that after the opera’s 1842 premiere we have been informed by More durable rapidly turned the ‘unofficial protest anthem of the Italian folks’ and mirrored the plight of the Ukrainian refugees Gelb spoke about in that we hear how the Hebrews and slaves in Babylon are longing ‘for his or her stunning misplaced homeland’. It was given one of the poignant musical performances of it that I can bear in mind.

Richard Strauss’s 1948 Vier letzte Lieder (4 Final Songs) finds the composer coming to phrases with the truth that his life is ending and maybe the main focus of songs concerning the inevitability of dying was unnecessarily downbeat within the circumstances wherein they have been sung. More durable reminded us how the texts from Hermann Hesse and Joseph von Eichendorff ‘evoke a sense of deep emotion and alternate transcendent peace’. I used to be not within the Metropolitan Opera Home for Lise Davidsen’s efficiency of the 4 Final Songs so am reluctant to commit myself over what I heard however I’m hoping she sounded higher there than by my loudspeakers. Vocally she didn’t sound fully at her ease, with proof of effort and shrillness. I felt Nézet-Séguin indulged Davidsen somewhat throughout ‘September’ however there was appreciable radiance from his orchestra throughout these 4 Final Songs and lovely, lingering violin solos from concertmaster David Chan. The unhappy postlude to ‘Im Abendrot’ when the larks flutter as soon as extra was extra affecting than a lot that preceded it.

A Live performance for Ukraine‘s ‘Ode to Pleasure’

If the start of the Met’s very worthy A Live performance for Ukraine was predictable so was its conclusion with the life-affirming ‘Ode to Pleasure’, the choral finale of Beethoven’s 1824 Ninth Symphony, the final main work the composer accomplished. Introducing it, More durable stated Beethoven’s ‘continued perception in humanity is powerfully expressed in his music.’ The textual content is especially trustworthy to Friedrich Schiller with a few of Beethoven’s personal phrases together with that for the opening solo for baritone or bass, ‘O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!’ (‘Oh pals, not these sounds!’). After the motion’s dramatic, portentous opening this was resplendently sung by bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Inexperienced whose singing was vital for its musicality and a spotlight to textual content. There was a fairly good mix of voices and the soloists and refrain made a heat and genuinely thrilling sound. Possibly it was me, however I assumed the normally dependable Piotr Beczała struggled with the tessitura of his tenor contributions. On the plus aspect was Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s adoption of the hair-raising tempo Beethoven needed. With ‘Freude, schöner Götterfunken Tochter aus Elysium’ (‘Pleasure, stunning spark of divinity, Daughter from Elysium’, Nézet-Séguin’s mixed forces delivered an ideal, roof-raising, celebration of peace, pleasure and positivity for a greater future for humankind.

Jim Pritchard

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