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Showing posts from October, 2016

Sergei Krylov - Vivaldi - Four Seasons, Violin Concerto No 2, Summer

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Antonio Vivaldi
The Four Seasons
Violin Concerto No 2 in G minor, RV 315, Summer
Sergei Krylov, violin
Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra
Yuri Bashmet
Moscow, December 2014

Nikolay Gumilev: My Thoughts

Why did you come, my thoughts, in instant, 
Like thieves to rob my quiet habitation, 
Like vultures, gloomy and malignant,              
With thirst for dread retaliation.

My hopes are gone, and ran away my visions,
My eyes were opened by fierce agitation,
And, in the sacred books of new religions, 
I read my words, my deals and plans for future actions.

For that, that I with looks so calm and quiet,
Watched them who sailed to victory and glory,
That with my lips I touched the lips in fire,
Which did not have the former sinning story,

That those hands of mine, my own fingers,
Didn’t know a plough, were so thin and pliant,
And that my songs, the rambling meistersingers, 
Could only sing, while making a sad sound,

For all this now came repudiation. 
Blind men will smash the gentle, deceptive temple,
And thoughts will come into my habitation,
And strangle me, like thieves – a shabby tramper.

The Kukotsky Enigma: a sprawling philosophical epic with a Tolstoyan edge

In 2001, novelist Ludmila Ulitskaya was the first woman to win Russia’s prestigious Booker Prize. The winning book was her fourth novel, which became a popular Russian TV serial in 2005 and has now finally appeared in English as The Kukotsky Enigma.

Doctor Pavel Kukotsky devotes his life to improving contemporary obstetrics, seeing both the mundane and the mystical aspects of the female reproductive system: “the bottomless breach of the world … the true gates of eternity.” Although officially illegal from 1936, Kukotsky performs safe abortions for women who – as we witness in the novel – might otherwise undergo fatal, botched operations. Like John Irving in his 1985 novel Cider House Rules, Ulitskaya explores the moral and existential paradoxes presented by the ability to interrupt pregnancies: “to step beyond the limits of biological law … Was this not where human choice, the right to freedom, ultimately was realized?” Kukotsky is also skilled in calculating the best chances of fertil…

Alexander Blok: The city sleeps

The city sleeps, wrapped in the haze,
The streetlamps barely glimmer …
And I can see the morning rays
Beyond the Neva, start to shimmer.
This distant and opaque reflection,
This gleam of the awaking blaze
Conceals the nearing resurrection
Of dreary, melancholy days…

August 23, 1899

By Alexander Blok
Translation by Andrey Kneller

Unsurpassable Tolstoy

A review by Virginia Woolf of Leo Tolstoy’s The Cossacks and Other Tales of the Caucasus (translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude), published in the TLS of February 1, 1917.

It is pleasant to welcome Tolstoy’s “The Cossacks” and other tales of the Caucasus to the World Classics. “The greatest of Russia’s writers,” say Mr. and Mrs. Maude in their introduction. And when we read or re-read these stories, how can we deny Tolstoy’s right to the title ? Of late years both Dostoevsky and Tchekov have become famous in England, so that there has certainly been less discussion, and perhaps less reading of Tolstoy himself. Coming back to him after an interval the shock of his genius seems to us quite surprising ; in his own line it is hard to imagine that he can ever be surpassed. For an English reader proud of the fiction of this country there is even something humiliating in the comparison between such a story as “The Cossacks,” published in 1863, and the novels which were being written at about …

A Day in the Life of Anna Akhmatova by Elaine Feinstein

Author of Anna of All the Russias: The Life of Anna Akhmatova, Elaine Feinstein imagines a day in the life of the poet during her exile in Tashkent, when she lived in a small room on the top floor of the ‘Hostel for Moscow Writers’ at 7, Karl Marx Street 

It was already mid-morning. Anna Akhmatova, her whole being formed in Leningrad, lay dreaming in Tashkent. Against the pillow her profile was as sharp as a metallic image on a coin. She awoke with a jolt, her heart thumping loudly and out of rhythm.

Her small, almost childlike hands threw off the faded pink blankets and reached for her pills. er hert clicked back into rhythm Too much vodka the night before with Faina Ranevskaya. As she sat up and cautiously rubbed her numb feet, she smiled think of Ranevskaya’s droll face: Charlie Chaplin, she called her. She was the most famous comic actress in Russia.

Anna began to pull on an old gown of Chinese silk with a black dragon embroidered on the back. One of the seams was torn from under the…