Nov. 17th, 2016

l_sylvanas: (flanelka)
Хотела для жж написать по-русски, но нет сил.

My Facebook feed became so politicized lately, that the only thing I can do is pay it back* with a somewhat politicized and perhaps somewhat random concert review. (*Livejournal, you just get this for free.)

I think I never cried in the Symphony (for the record: feeling like crying is how I judge the quality of an operatic performance), but today it came really close with the terrifying Shostakovich's 11th, dubbed "The year 1905", and its machine gun sounds followed by passages in which one can hear blood flowing on the snow, and people dying. And then the funeral toll, which of course mourned a lot more than the thousand lives that the "Bloody Sunday" claimed (as a lot more was to come).

Today's program was an all-Russian program, and yet it felt very relevant, given all the political unrest happening now. In addition to Shostakovich, we heard Tchaikovsky's "Mazeppa" overture, which no one today can probably listen to without thinking painfully of Russia and Ukraine---and of the general issues of divisiveness and tension between groups that is fueled by nationalism and that it is pretty much not possible to overcome, as sides are not concerned with each other's opinion and reasoning. And of the disastrous consequences that such tension often has.

Anyway, the third piece was Rachmaninov 4th, which, as the Symphony's writer put it, "does not make any reference to events or ideas beyond music itself". The writer goes on to suggest that this is possibly linked to the fact that, while Shostakovich (as well as Prokofiev, whom the writer calls the second great Soviet composer) remained in Soviet Russia, Rachmaninov emigrated to the U.S., became a naturalized citizen, and was able to "extend the ethos of Russian Romanticism well into the 20-th century". One thing I have to say about that (not claiming to say anything about Rachmaninov himself necessarily) is that indeed, immigration often results in a certain preservation, "freezing" of the stratum of culture that the person left with. And while "extending the ethos of Romanticism" may sound nice, today this whole notion actually triggers thoughts of immigration, integration (and lack thereof)---and especially thoughts of how we each live in a bubble of what we believe is the right way to live or sometimes simply "the truth".

Finally, there is an anecdote about Prokofiev that suddenly gained an additional meaning for me. Asked whether Prokofiev would consider emigrating to the U.S., he once said: "Oh but of course I would move to the U.S! But I cannot, while Rachmaninov is alive". What he was humorously referring to is undoubtfully the huge popularity that Rachmaninov enjoyed. Which is due to the fact that his music is very approachable, compared to that of Prokofiev. Which is because it stylistically belongs to the 19th century---in enough respects to be easier to digest by wider audiences (why that's the case is an interesting question, which I don't want to dive into here). Which makes me think of all those who are so willing to believe in economic statements and promises that really belong to another century. And, on the other hand, those who believe in the free press and some other things that I think also do not exist today.

Anyway, ars longa, vita breve.


l_sylvanas: (Default)

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