the performance of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
by Evgeny Mravinsky
recording in Leningrad, March 1982
Philips 422 442-2 or Russian Disc RDCD10917
Blackness. Open eyes cannot penetrate the darkness. The city is in
fervour. It knows. Feelings of fear and fury stifle each other.
High above, a light is burning. It is still weak and sheds no light. Its
immanence imposes its pace.
It brightens; becomes blinding, inflicts pain. Bodies are bent, its icy
breath blows, its roar eats away the flesh.
It fades away, the dimly lit sky remains dull, featureless. Through the
fog can be seen a straight and narrow pathway, the fine spidery branches
of some Winter tree. A man and a woman, the town around them seems
distant; the consciousness of the forthcoming tragedy engulfs them in
They stand in a dazed quietness.
beyond the skylines rises a call to ruin, it pervades them; dislocating
A couple, bound together. Shoulder to shoulder they feel safe. In their
chest, their voices sink and drown. Embraced,
they are submitted.
Anguish. A thick blood seizes the brain, they are breathless.
a worn-out paralysis. The news is spreading far and away by word of mouth.
Their lives are folded back on themselves. The echo softly brings back the
An upsurge of love holds them, tighter.
The oblivion that surrounded them dissolves into thin air; awake now, they
remain still, ultimate stillness.
of parting. A whole hypnotised people is
converging. Long steam whistles are getting closer,
the crowd standing on the embankments intends to
approach, here it comes rushing, heavy, black with soot under the beating
drums. The locomotive's unsteady pace takes him away in a blaze of bugles.
Victory already has a bitter taste
These soldiers are no longer
parading, in the dead of night the carriages cling to the rails. Bawdy
songs are exorcisms against fear; when they die out, each of them has to
face his own fears, sitting in front of blind openings, anticipating the
The train stops and is emptied, the fifes set the pace for the dazed men.
Decaying lights fly over the
mountains. That is where
they are driven. An
aura, a swarm of
lightning underlines the crests.
All is gone in a flash. The column is swallowed by the tunnel, bound for
the final battle. In the smoke, the dust, the drifts of gasoline, it
pierces through rock, bumps, speed, heroes. The end of the tunnel is
getting nearer, and nearer.
Nobody will stir; the convoy is in the city itself. They shall all behold
the same wasteland.
The place is deserted.
In the early morning
light. A flag, some barbed wire encircled by frost,
a seated sentry. The man, far from his beloved, talks to her as if she
could hear him. He cannot forget what he has lived through, what his eyes have seen, his
strength gone, he tells his tale; a stray animal, his bewilderment is
transmogrified into pain. He is subdued. Alone.
...An indescribable ointment; she seizes him, warms him. He stands up again
She is replaced with the falling snow, that spins like the world, all
around him. Dark grey smoke glides like a dead thing. The wide
road goes white to the
horizon. Trumpets celebrate the soldiers who took
it. Now these men are gone, their friends and
families are scattered. They play in a vacuum.
The man survives in the vast landscape. His ravaged hope is still alive.