Review by Andrey Shavrey. Pianist Polina Osetinskaya and the prophet in her Homeland →

Photo by Andrey Shavrey
It's only been six months, and she's amazing and outstanding (after the current concert, these epithets suit her to the fullest!) Pianist Polina Osetinskaya gave a solo concert again at the Philharmonic Grand Guild in Riga. Russian Russian, of course, there is another epithet — "Russian", "Russian", and no matter how we treat these "titles" now, we need to state this — absolutely not all Russians and Russians treat well what we are all going through right now.

Oh, this Facebook, not with a wonderful chamber concert, be it remembered. But an announcement appeared shortly before the current concert: "A famous Russian pianist is coming" — and someone immediately put an "evil" like. I didn't figure it out, I don't know the whole background. Just like that, he immediately declared — say, from Russia? Russian?.. I'm sorry to write about this, but - it is necessary.

Yes, Polina is from Russia. And she's Russian. And the whole music world has known her for a long time, literally — from the USA to Japan. Now Polina is careful in words, but confident in music. Coming on stage, she said that she dedicates this program to "what we are all going through right now." And I hope you understand what we are going through right now.

In Latvia, this can be said, fortunately, freely — we are experiencing an unjust war (although are they righteous?). Alas, it was started by the country in which Polina was born and to which she constantly returns, although with her still world fame (constant engagements at Carnegie Hall are worth something) she could have left her homeland long ago. And live quite happily. To be honest, as many Russian celebrities have done and are doing before and after famous events.

At the same time, it should be mentioned that Osetinskaya expressed her position at the very beginning of the "famous events" and immediately, alas, her concerts at the legendary St. Petersburg Conservatory were canceled, no performances in outstanding Russian halls. So this is undoubtedly a separation. And this is exactly the name of the current program — "Separation", after the name of the nocturne by Mikhail Glinka, who died in Berlin.

For Polina, this is separation, including from her favorite halls. For example, she prepared the current program for performance in the museum of the great pianist Svyatoslav Richter, with whom she was familiar, but... concerts are canceled.

She recently had a concert at the house of culture "Dawn". Not the Great Hall of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, of course, in which Polina has performed more than once, but still the "Dawn" is in the center of Moscow. The concert was almost disrupted, they called that a bomb was planted, the intermission was delayed, but... nevertheless, the pianist brought the performance to the end.

Sorry, I still remind you that history repeats itself. As with the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, to whom all Moscow and Leningrad halls were "closed" in the early 1970s, concerts were canceled even in ordinary Saratov. Only for sheltering the disgraced writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn at his dacha.

And Mstislav Leopoldovich went to Chukotka, literally. The main thing for him was to play. With the filing of his wife Galina Vishnevskaya, he still left Russia, although he really did not want it. But fifteen years later he returned with such a triumph!

In the meantime, dear Russians, know that the current Riga concert of Polina Osetinskaya was almost a triumph. In any case, it was a completely extraordinary event. As surely it was the day before and her concert at the Russian Theater of Estonia in Tallinn.

Polina, for obvious reasons, avoids direct words about what is happening to her and to the world. But she is free in music and in her choice of program. And the choice of the program — at the present time, it's oh, what an act for a Russian, for a Russian musician. At first Glinka's "Separation" sounded, and then the famous ten preludes by Sergei Rachmaninov followed.

Polina reminded about Rachmaninov before the performance: "They say that Rachmaninov did not understand the revolution of 1917 and left for Sweden. And then I realized — and left for the USA." The audience was laughing... Although many obvious analogies are not so funny.

"She is an absolutely mature musician," our outstanding musicologist Boris Avramets told me during the intermission. — You see, many people, when performing Rachmaninoff, cross a certain line and begin to tear their shirt, figuratively speaking. Polina Osetinskaya feels this line very accurately and does not cross it."

And the second part is a feat at all according to current concepts. Because at first the music of the most famous modern Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov sounded — his crystal miniatures-bagatelles "Chopin's Moment" and "The Moment of Spring".

With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, 85-year-old Silvestrov, who was born in Kiev and lived there all his life, was forced to move to Berlin. He, too, is now separated.

And then there was a magnificent cycle "Bukovina songs", written by an outstanding... Russian composer Leonid Desyatnikov. However, that Russian was still born in Kharkov, where since childhood he listened to Ukrainian songs on the radio, which became the basis of his 24 preludes of this cycle. And now he has been an emigrant from Russia for almost a year, living in Israel. And he has a separation.

Polina brought together composers from Russia and Ukraine. And she did it peacefully, without loud statements and shooting. It's worth a lot.

Yes, and the music remains. And the hope for justice, which in the final case has always triumphed — both with Rostropovich and with Rachmaninoff... And even if the event is not political at all (although to some extent it is socially significant), I want to tell the residents of the boundless country that Latvia is on the map to the right, after hot applause: "Come to your senses! And know that there are prophets in your Fatherland! Listen, if not to their words, then at least to the music they perform..."

Andrey Shavrey for LSM.LV

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