Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tolstoy's Waltz features multi-talented Russians

Until I ran across this fascinating CD titled Tolstoy's Waltz, I didn't know that Leo Tolstoy ("War and Peace," et. al.) had written music, but the waltz here is quite charming. Three pieces by Boris Pasternak ("Dr. Zhivago" and great poetry) are also featured, a bit more adventurous and modern, probably the most interesting of all the pieces. though he wrote music only in his youth. All of the Russians were famous for something other than writing music, though one might expect Sergei Diaghilev and George Balanchine to have dabbled in a little music in their possibly misspent youths. The other three, Vladimir Odoyevsky, a writer/philosopher, and Vasily Polenov and Pavel Fedotov, both painters, I had never heard of, but thanks to Google ... they wrote charming little salon-style pieces or songs.

Lera Auerbach (also a composer) plays the piano in a demonstration that having one talent doesn't preclude having another. I'm not sure I would want any of the music I wrote as a teenager, when one plan was to become a diplomat and write memorable tone poems describing each of the countries in which I served, but there's no danger of that. It's safely gone.

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