A wintry night. Huddled in the foothills against the cold, the forest exhales in silence.
The moon blinks. I hear a rustling: the cat is stalking shadows in the darkness.
I open my eyes before the alarm squeaks. The birds have not yet risen. Before I begin my busy-work, I want to gather myself. No, I do not yet want words.
I scan the vault in search of solace.
Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, sung by Anna Moffo, comes to my aid. An arc of sound, a silken breath, a bridge of dusk and dawn; its melody unfurls in a slow streaming.
|Antonina Nezhdanova, for whom Rachmaninoff's Vocalise was written|
It would be difficult to imagine the music scene in the 20th century without the style, passion and talent of Rostropovich. In this recording (admittedly, the audio quality may not be the best), he demonstrates how well he knew the voice, through his cello. Other recordings of Vocalise exist, where Rostropovich accompanies his wife, the singer Galina Vishnevskaya, on piano, but I prefer this one.
I came across a moving tribute to Rostropovich, "The Musical Conscience," which reminded me how many countries can now lay claim to have been a home to Rostropovich: born in Azerbaijan, he lived in Orenburg and other parts of the Soviet Union, including Moscow, until his exile abroad.
I was also reminded of his profound human decency: when he heard that the writer Solzhenitsyn was living in a place without heat, Rostropovich invited the dissident to stay in his warm dacha. This was not looked upon kindly by the establishment.
In 1974, Rostropovich was forced to leave his homeland with his cello and his dog, but he never abandoned his music, or his humanity. What a disarming personality!
A pure, clear tone pierces the air behind my house: it is a sparrow, singing farewell to the pearlescent half-moon as it sails behind the mountains in a sea of powder-blue.
And it is a good morning.