Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

This performance of Beethoven’s colossal symphonic landmark, given in Warsaw during the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra’s European tour of 2023, was bound to be noteworthy, both as the UFO’s debut recording, and as the first—symbolically—to be sung in Ukrainian. Leonard Bernstein, when performing Beethoven’s Ninth just weeks after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, famously changed the sung text’s “Freude” (“Joy”) to “Freiheit” (“Freedom”). Following his example, the UFO’s founder-conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson has replaced “Freude" with “Slava,” familiar from the now-famous phrase “Slava Ukraini!” (“Glory to Ukraine!”). The UFO’s sound is plush and veiled—a contrast to the more historically informed performance style we’ve become accustomed to. But it amply demonstrates how the work’s grandeur is ultimately and credibly the source of its all-embracing humanity, reaching its apotheosis here in the choral finale sung with heart-felt emotion by a fine team of Ukrainian soloists and the 40-strong Ukrainian Freedom Chorus.

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