The Russian Invasion

Posted by sepoy on November 22, 2004 · 2 mins read

Aimee's book reading kicked off a most excellent weekend. She was great and I am looking forward to reading the short stories. Sunday, we went to see Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists play at a church in the north-western suburbs. This being the second weekend in a row that we were surrounded by hundreds of old Russian ladies. Last weekend, we saw Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata play at the CSO. That show featured two Concerto Grossi by A. Schnittke. If you aren't on that band wagon, I urge you to jump here or here. Ms. Sepoy, who is a regional authority on Schnittke, is my window into that polyphonic world and seems not to get insulted when I call Schnittke the DJ Shadow of classical music.

The Bashmet event was exclusively Russian with a nice bazaar of CDs, DVDs and books. Picked up my coooolest toy ever [it is a little replica red soldier from 1918 who wobbles back and forth, most excellently]. The program was, uh, mixed and didn't exist at the venue, but they played a light mixture including a piece by Toru Takemitsu (he composed for Ran). Bashmet talked a lot (in Russian) and told many amusing anecodets (in Russian). I laughed along.

The conversations turned to the impact of capitalism on classical music in Russia. Our russka informants said that the kids are having a hard time making a living now that every one is only interested in $s and no one wants to waste money on culture. Yikes. Imagine 20th century classical music without Russian composers and players. Pretty bleak and boring, if you ask me. Should we thank the communist regime for being oppressive enough to stimulate creativity and bureaucratic enough to support public arts? Which makes the recent noise about NEA going the way of the dodo bird all the more alarming.

Related question: Is Spain the dog that didn't bark in western classical music? Someone know about the musical aspirations of the Church after the Reconquista?