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‘Our music cannot be destroyed’: the duo reviving a macabre Ukrainian masterpiece

Russia has fought a long war against Ukraine’s composers. Now Kyiv-born conductor Dalia Stasevska and US violinist Joshua Bell are resurrecting a war-scarred concerto – with an orchestra whose horn-player is missing in action

In the National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw, violinist Joshua Bell and conductor Dalia Stasevska are on an intensely focused mission to get the opening bars of a concerto just right. The work begins with a series of exposed chords from the woodwind, from which rises a declamatory flourish on the violin that fades into a lyrical phrase so intimate and hushed that it steals the breath. The musicians are recording the piece, so the passage is repeated over and over, then critiqued, with the finest of adjustments made.

You almost wouldn’t believe that the young Ukrainian orchestra, who are bringing such a disciplined passion to their work, had spent nine hours queuing to cross the Polish border the previous day, nor that they have had to cope with the grim realities of full-scale war for the past two years, nor indeed that they were dealing with the heartbreaking fact that one of their horn-players, Maryan Hadzetskyy, is missing in action.

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