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A Stirring Performance By The Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine

Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine, photo by Chris Lee

At Carnegie Hall on the evening of Wednesday, February 15th, I had the pleasure of attending a fine concert presented by the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine under the distinguished direction of Principal Conductor, Theodore Kuchar.

After a brief introduction by the eminent actor Liev Schreiber, the program began favorably with an expert account of Ukrainian composer Yevhen Stankovych’s compelling Chamber Symphony No. 3 for Flute and Strings, featuring Michailo Sosnovsky as soloist. The impressive virtuoso Stanislav Khristenko then joined the musicians for an accomplished rendition of the Piano Concerto No. 1 of Johannes Brahms. The stirring, opening Maestoso—which is dramatic and Romantic with both meditative and impassioned passages—drew applause. The lyrical Adagio that follows—the most beautiful of the movements—at times recalls the slow movements from the mature piano concertos of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as well as echoing Felix Mendelssohn. The lively, affirmativefinaleis the movement that most strongly manifests the influence of Ludwig van Beethoven and features a remarkable fugue which is maybe the pinnacle of the work. An enthusiastic ovation elicited a dazzling encore from the pianist: Vladimir Horowitz’s Variations on a Theme from Bizet's Carmen.

The second half of the event was even more memorable, consisting in a confident reading of Antonín Dvořák’s marvelous “New World” Symphony. The exciting first movement is expansive, tuneful and captivating while the ensuing Largo—which received applause—is soulful, evocative and serene, with a pastoral middle section. The Scherzo is more suspenseful and propulsive, with more leisurely, cheerful passages, and thefinaletoo is exhilarating with some quieter moments. An appreciative ovation was rewarded with another delightful encore: Ukrainian composer Anatoliy Kos-Anatolsky’s "Chasing the Wind" from The Jay's Wing.

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