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Showing posts from May, 2012

Yury Polyakov: A Goatling In Milk

Late in the morning, I woke up Vitka: “Get up you pest!”
“Why a pest”
“Because it’s unhealthy to sleep for so long…We have to go!”
“Where to?”
“To go and get the loot.”
“What freaking loot?”
“You should have paid attention in school, instead of chasing after dogs!”
“If I paid attention in school would I really have met you?”
“Get up! And remember this: Stenka Razin went to Persia to get the loot, this is where he got the Persian princess, which he later drowned…”
“Just like Gerasim did with Mumu?” Vitek brightened up.
“Something like that,” I nodded in surprise. Such an analogy had never entered my mind. “What’s for breakfast?”
“Nothing”
“What do you mean nothing?”
“Nothing, we don’t have any money. That’s why we need to go to get the loot…” Vitka got dressed. And once more I looked over his obnoxiously folk image with pleasure. I took one of the folders and shoved it under his arm, but on second thought took it away: there was something unnatural about it. Then I sat him down behind the table, and g…

Bella Akhmadulina: Music lessons

I like, Marina, that you were, like all,
that you – like me – I am, my larynx frozen,
not saying: You – like light! like evenfall! –
but as if choked on ice, my struggling bosom
is trying to exhale: You were, like all,
taught music lessons. (Oh, absurd of schooling!
As if, to God's amusement and appall,
a magnet were instilled with rules of pulling.)

Two darknesses would hardly get along:
You and the piano, two complete dimensions,
two aliens to one another's songs,
two rivals jointly serving their detention.


Two stubborn sullennesses are opposed
in an insoluble, unfriendly silence:
You and the grand – two powers of the pause,
Two fragile instruments of vocal science.

Your orphanhood is the head start that tips
the scales. For, what's a piano but a captive  
of voicelessness, until an ally dips
his fingertips into diminished Septimes.

And you are –  solo. You yourself suffice.
And music finds your recipe misleading:
Not conjuring an injuring device,
to let the cords reve…

Zheleznogorsk unfolds its wings

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In the depths of the Siberian taiga, on the banks of the Yenisei River lies the city of Zheleznogorsk. Founded in 1950 as a center for plutonium production, it isn’t a place people move to. They can’t. Even local residents must have permission to leave and return.



Going through the fence that surrounds the city is like crossing a time warp into the Soviet Union of the 1950s. There are wide avenues flanked by five-story apartment blocks; in the center of town stands the Rodina [Motherland] movie theater and the main entrance to the factory that, before the days of perestroika, built the world-famous Kosmos and Molniya satellites, the most powerful of their time. At the beginning of the 21st century, the city gained a new lease on life, thanks largely to the program to develop the Glonass navigation system, the Russian answer to G.P.S.
“In the 1960s, the whole Soviet Union dreamed of space! It was prestigious to work in the industry,” said Vladimir Khalimanovich, now director of the Infor…

Anatoly Aleksin: Crazy Evdokia

“Ex-best friends are the worst enemies, they say,” Olya told us once. “And I have the proof.” She stopped for a moment, then went on, “You want to know who it is? Lucie!”
She called Lusya Katunina Lucie, the French way. “Like in the house of the Rostovs,” she would explain. “Or the Bolkonskys.” Lusya aggressively predicted for our daughter the life of Leonardo da Vinci. Ignoring Olya’s many fierce protests, Lusya carried her huge sketch folders - she even mixed colors and rinsed brushes for Olya. What woman would withstand such admiration? Olya befriended Lucie, though having very little time for this friendship. Actually, Lusya didn’t have much time, either. Lusya’s mother had been bed-ridden for years. Lusya’s single aunt, her father’s sister, took care of the poor woman. But Lusya always called home – whether she was at school or at our house visiting. Trying to make her mother happy, she would exclaim, “If only you could see the sleeping lion Olya made! I am whispering the entire even…

Russia’s Andrey Baranov wins Brussels music contest

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Russian violinist Andrei Baranov has won the top prize of 25,000 euros at the Queen Elizabeth competition of young musicians in Brussels.
He was one of 12 international competitors to reach the finals. These contests have been held since 1937. Queen Elizabeth of Belgium was herself a renowned violinist. TASS

Andrey Baranov: Tchaikovsky - Valse-Scherzo, Queen Elisabeth Competition, 2012


Glinka: A Life for the Tsar (Bolshoi 1984) - overture

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Marina Tsvetaeva: Rails

Marina Tsvetaeva came of age in Moscow during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Famine that followed. She published her first collection of poems, Vechemy Albom (Evening Album) in 1910, at the age of eighteen; her Selected Poems were translated into English, by Elaine Feinstein, in 1971, followed by translations of A Captive Spirit (1994), and Earthly Signs: The Moscow diaries, 1917–1922, which appeared last year. Throughout her career, Tsvetayeva drew on the work of Boris Pasternak, Rainer Maria Rilke and Anna Akhmatova, among others, but she bore more than her share of grief, too. During the Moscow famine in 1919, she attempted to save her younger daughter, Irina, from starvation by placing her in a state orphanage; the child died soon after. Her husband, Sergei Efron, who had worked for the Soviet secret police, was executed in 1939, while her surviving daughter, Ariadna, was sent to a labour camp. On August 31, 1941, not long after the German army invaded the Soviet Union, Ts…

Alexander Belyayev (1884 - 1942)

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Alexander Romanovich Belyayev was born on March (4) 16, 1884 into the family of a priest in Smolensk. In 1901 he graduated from the Smolensk Theological Seminary. But he didn't want to become a priest and that is why entered the Demidov Lyceum in Yaroslavl. After the death of his father he had to make his living by drawing, playing the violin and teaching private classes. Having graduated from the lyceum, he became quite a good lawyer and his clientele was gradually growing. He was quite a success, and often travelled abroad. However, in 1914 he decided to quit everything and dedicate himself to writing. At the age of 35 he became seriously ill with backbone tuberculosis and was bedridden for six years. Fortunately, the writer managed to recover and return to high-grade life. At first he lived in Yalta and worked as a tutor, and an inspector of criminal investigation department, and then moved to Moscow and again went in for law, but continued writing at the same time. In the 1920s h…

Daniil Kharms (1905-1942)

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Russian literature seems always able to bring forth a crop of new and interesting writers who are experimenting somewhere at the frontiers of literary style, language or story. Among our contemporaries, we think of Andrey Sinyavsky (alias 'Abram Tertz'), Vasiliy Aksyonov, Sasha Sokolov and Yevgeniy Popov, along with the women writers who emerged under glasnost', during the last Soviet years: Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Tatyana Tolstaya and others. But alongside the new writers, we continue to rediscover the old. Mikhail Bulgakov and Andrey Platonov, unexpected jewels from the Stalinist period, only came to prominence decades after their own span. Discoveries from the 'Silver Age' period (roughly the 1890s to 1917) are still coming or returning to light. Neglected figures from even further back are now achieving or recovering a belated but deserved readership (Vladimir Odoevsky from the Romantic period, Vsevolod Garshin from later in…

“Ice Trilogy”: Metaphysical masterpiece or empty myth?

A huge, frozen meteorite crashes into Siberia. Our hero, young Snegirev, is mysteriously drawn towards it on a geological expedition and becomes the first of the 23,000 Children of Light to awaken and realize his destiny. He and the rest of the blue-eyed, fair-haired brotherhood are really “Light-bearing rays.” Endlessly reincarnated, they have become prisoners on Earth, the planet that was “Light’s great mistake”, violating the harmony of the cosmos. The mission for Bro (Snegirev’s new light-name) is to find and assemble the other 22,999 brothers and sisters in order to dissolve the Earth back into Primordial Light.



This is the premise of Vladimir Sorokin’s bizarre “Ice Trilogy,” now a three-novel tome in English. The author is a controversial figure: Soviet authorities banned his satirical books and state prosecutors (encouraged by a pro-Putin youth group) once tried to prosecute him for disseminating pornography; the pornographic material in question was the writer’s own work.  But …

Osip Mandelstam: Yet to die. Unalone still

Yet to die. Unalone still. For now your pauper-friend is with you. Together you delight in the grandeur of the plains, And the dark, the cold, the storms of snow.
Live quiet and consoled In gaudy poverty, in powerful destitution.  Blessed are those days and nights.   The work of this sweet voice is without sin.   
Misery is he whom, like a shadow,    A dog’s barking frightens, the wind cuts down.    Poor is he who, half-alive himself    Begs his shade for pittance.
January 15-16, 1937
TRANSLATED BY JOHN HIGH AND MATVEI YANKELEVICH

Russia’s Nikolai Khozyainov wins piano contest in Dublin

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Russia’s Nikolai Khozyainov has been named the winner of an international piano competition, which is held once every three years in Dublin, Ireland.

The 19-year-old conservatory student in Moscow faced up to 50 older performers from around the world, bagging the top prize of 15,000 Euros.

Khozyainov was trailed by China’s Jayan San, followed by Andrei Osokins of Latvia.

With the hard-win victory under his belt, the Russian will now have a chance to showcase his pianistic skills at Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, the National Concert Hall in Dublin and other prestigious venues.


Nikolay Khozyainov - Chopin Piano Concerto n°1 - 3rd mov


Restoring Wonderland

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An array of once neglected and forgotten architectural gems from the former imperial estate of Tsarskoye Selo have been brought back to life and will be unveiled to the public this summer. Local residents and city visitors alike will be able to set foot for the first time ever in the mystical White Tower, a spot once favored for outdoor activities by many members of Russian royalty, including the family of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II. The restoration of the White Tower Pavilion, located in the estate’s Alexander Park, is in full swing. Looming over the romantic park from a hilltop, the tower, built between 1821 and 1827, was born out of Tsar Nicholas I’s admiration for Gothic architecture, medieval art and the culture associated with knighthood. The tsar intended the tower to be a treat for his sons — princes Alexander, Nikolai, Mikhail and Konstantin — who all came to adore it. The princes studied history there and practiced various athletic activities. The pavilion, designed by arc…

Alexander Neverov: Tashkent, the Bread City

Mishka sank into thoughts. He just couldn’t get Tashkent – the city of bread – out of his mind. He would start calculating: two thousand miles is not that far after all. Well, it is far, if you walk, of course. The train would get you there in three days. And the ticket – can’t he live without the ticket? The conductor will see a little guy on the train and say, “Don’t hurt him people, it’s Mishka, the Starveling – he’s not a burden. How heavy is he? Forty pounds, at most.” If they kick him out of the carriage – the train roof works just as well for a couple days. He’d climbed up trees to pick up rooks’ nests – it’s a lot tougher, by the way – but still he didn’t fall. Suddenly Mishka saw his buddy Seryozha, one year his junior, and it cheered him up a bit. “Come with me!”
“Where to?”
“To Tashkent, to get bread. The more the merrier. You get in trouble – I cover your back, I get in trouble – I have yours covered. We are not gonna make it here anyway.” Seryozha didn’t have much faith in thi…

Architecture of Soviet Kaliningrad

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Architecture of Soviet Kaliningrad: Soviet Kaliningrad was pretty much different from Russian Kaliningrad. Let’s see some photos of the city how it used to look. This photo seems to show Kaliningrad of 1990 with all its spirit and mood. Cathedral before restoration, 1992 Inside … Read more...

Marina Tsvetaeva: Candlelight in Night

It's a home again 
                Where some never quit:
                Maybe, sip champagne,
                Maybe, simply – sit.
                Simpler yet – two hands
                Have each other found.
                Have you seen, my friends,
                Homes like this around?                 
                They of  parting nights
                And first meetings scream.
                Maybe, many lights, 
                Maybe, only three ...
                Will I get my mind 
                Rid of worries weird?
                Why has next to mine 
                Home like this appeared?
           Not from candlelight 
                        Fearful darkness dies - 
                 From those sleepless eyes.                                  
       Bless those homes, my friends,                         
             Where light never ends,                                
Homes that nights ignite.


English translation  by Alexander Givental

Color Photographs Of Russian Cities 1968-84

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Color Photographs Of Russian Cities 1968-84: These are some color photos of Leningrad, Odessa, Kiev, Sverdlovsk, Perm dated 1968-84. For the beginning some photographs of Vladislav Mikosha, the pioneer of the Soviet color photography. Leningrad through the camera of a foreign tourist, 1971. “Astoria” hotel Dvortsovaya … Read more...

Kamchatka: Up To Avacha

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Kamchatka: Up To Avacha: It’s not so hard to climb Avachinsky volcano. The path leads up only in some places sinking in snow… Hope nothing tragic has happened here… Neighbour of Avacha – Koryaka or Koryak hill Sulphur Is it a man or a … Read more...