Voices from Russia

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Video. Любовь святая. Holy Love. Composed by Georgi Sviridov, words by Aleksei Tolstoy.



This is one of the most moving and tragic pieces in the Russian choral literature. One could say that it is Sviridov’s “requiem” for all those who perished in the Bolshevik repressions. Usually it is sung with a mixed chorus, with the solo taken by a soprano, but, this recording uses a male chorus (the “Optyna Pustyn” Male Chorus from Russia) with a counter-tenor soloist (Dmitri Popov). The background vocals appear to transposed down a fifth in comparison with the mixed choir version. Originally, this was written as incidental music to a play by Aleksei Tolstoy, it was the only way that such music could be written in the Soviet period. The words are simple:

Thou art Holy Love,
From the beginning, thou wert persecuted,
Covered in blood.
Thou art Holy Love.

Spare a prayer for the millions lost in the repressions.

Vechnaya Pamyat



A View from Moscow by Valentin Zorin… Reason for Worry



The Pentagon is stricken with panic. Dark clouds have gathered in the sky over a programme which has, for a quarter of a century now, generated billions upon billions of dollars for those whom the great President Dwight D Eisenhower described as the military-industrial complex of America. President-elect Barack Obama refrained from pledging continued action under what’s known as the Strategic Defence Initiative. He chose words with utmost care every time he would mention that pet project of his predecessors in the course of his electoral campaign. He said the Strategic Defence Initiative could survive if it could prove its effectiveness. That he sticks to that position was confirmed by his aide Denis McDonough. According to Mr McDonough, President-elect Obama wants the new technologies to prove their effectiveness. The director of the Washington-headquartered Antimissile Defence Agency, Air Force Lieutenant General Henry Obering, was quick to say that existing plans for antimissile defence are feasible and that he’d let Mr Obama know this. I can’t help noticing that a fairly vague word, “feasible”, was used by the definitely-annoyed Lieutenant General Obering. The director of the American anti-missile defence programme refrained from the use of stronger words. It wasn’t that this high-ranking member of the outgoing Administration was afraid of saying the wrong thing to supposedly change-hungry Mr Obama. It’s because the Pentagon is still looking for a way to prove it’s made good use of the decades of painstaking efforts and enormous allocations for its highly-ambitious strategic defence initiative. It’s looking for a way to prove that the USA has an impenetrable anti-missile umbrella.

Ronald Reagan got used to the idea of “Star Wars” in Hollywood, and the great physicist Edward Teller convinced him of the feasibility of the star wars project. The Strategic Defence Initiative was launched in 1983, but, Professor Teller would soon see that he’d made a mistake. An honest scholar, he tried to talk President Reagan out of the highly-demanding project. He tried hard, but got nowhere. The Strategic Defence Initiative landed in the lap of military-industrial corporations, which were only too happy to sign up for it. Fifty celebrated scholars of America, Nobel Prize winners, all of them, tried to use the combined weight of their distinguished personal records in an effort to ditch the ineffective and highly-dangerous Strategic Defence Initiative. They wrote to tell the White House that “no technology exists that’d enable the kill vehicle to keep ahead of improvements to offensive weapons… Even if the next planned test of the proposed anti-ballistic missile system works as planned, any movement toward deployment would be premature, wasteful, and dangerous”. Apparently, the American Nobel Prize winners had every reason to say what they said.

The latest economic developments show that an integral and highly important element of the arms race, which was re-started by the Bush Administration, the anti-missile defence programme, weighs down as an unbearable burden on the economy of the United States of America. Attempts to spread the arms race to outer space and plans for the opening of new missile bases explain the latest turn to the worse in international relations. This is what the fifty prize-winning scholars talked about eight years ago. However, the White House has, in defiance of facts and the elements, forced the Pentagon to hold one anti-missile test after another. Most of those tests were anything but successful, which brought celebrated physicist Andrew Sessler and other highly-qualified experts to declare that the system in question would, if it ever got fielded, prove dysfunctional.

The arrogant stubbornness of Washington, which kept pushing on with its pet project, placed a very heavy and incessantly-growing burden on the American economy. The federal government expects the final cost of its antimissile defence program to top 150 billion dollars (4.189 trillion roubles. 118.455 billion euros. 97.665 billion UK pounds). The federal government repeats what the godfathers of this programme say. Nevertheless, other knowledgeable people see that far-from-small sum as the tip of the iceberg. They expect the highly-questionable anti-missile defence program to cost from 800 billion to 1.2 trillion dollars (22.423 to 33.514 trillion roubles. 632 to 948 billion euros. 522 to 782 billion UK pounds). That cost estimate gives American policy-makers much food for thought. Alarmed voices were heard on Capitol Hill way before the eruption of the current crisis. It’s worth pointing out that the running mate of Barack Obama, Senator Joseph Biden, was one of those to doubt the advisability of additional allocations for the anti-missile defence program. Now that the American economy has come to face new problems, it’s only natural for increasingly-nervous Americans to start losing confidence in the ruling élite. After all, the Pentagon can’t dispel people’s fears with convincing figures and argumentation.

28 November 2008

zorin_vValentin Zorin

Voice of Russia World Service


Three Guarneri del Gesù Violins were Played in Moscow by Pinchas Zuckerman

Filed under: art music,cultural,music,performing arts,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00


Those who filled the seats in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire on Saturday evening, 29 November, enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see and hear three 250-year-old violins made by the famous Italian master Guarneri del Gesù. These three “heroines” of the evening were played by the famous virtuoso violinist Pinchas Zuckerman. Britain’s celebrated Royal Philharmonic Orchestra provided a lush accompaniment to the three prized instruments crafted by the great 18th century Italian luthier.

Adagio by Henri Vieuxtemps performed by Russian violinist Anna Savkina… she’s only 14 years old… hurrah for our future!

This unforgettable concert was the brainchild of Maksim Viktorov, a young Moscow lawyer, violin collector, philanthropist, and the president of the Investment Programmes Fund. Mr Viktorov said, “I feel there is a certain message Guarneri del Gesù tried to convey in his instruments. In order to understand this, you have to listen to several such instruments. Just listen to the way his violins sound and you’ll feel this. That’s why I wanted to share this joy with my fellow Muscovites. I hope this musical tribute to Guarneri del Gesù will become a significant event in the cultural world. Since this is a specific step in advancing our understanding, it shall help us to know what intellectual values we stand for”.

Poème Élégiaque, Op 12, by Eugène Ysaÿe, part 1. Philippe Graffin (violin), Pascal Devoyon (piano)

One of the three Guarneri del Gesù violins that was played last night, after almost a century of silence, he recently bought at Sotheby’s. It was made in 1741 and later belonged to Henri Vieuxtemps, the Belgian composer and violin prodigy, who was a court soloist to Tsar Aleksandr II. The second Guarneri violin played that night was courtesy of Japan’s Musical Foundation, represented by Mrs Kazuki Shiomi. That instrument was once played by the great Eugène Ysaÿe.

Pinchas Zukerman and Marc Neikrug perform Brahms Sonata nr 3 Op 108, fourth movement

The third Guarneri belongs to Pinchas Zuckerman himself. “If violins could talk, they would tell us many interesting stories. The soul of the great master who built them lives in these instruments”, Maestro Zuckerman said. He added that the Moscow public just loved the concept! Maestro Zuckerman is ready to take part in ever-new projects on the Moscow stage.

The three violins played on Saturday night were made within a year of each other, from the same wood. “These violins are sisters, and they met again in Moscow after more than 250 years”, Mr Viktorov said.

30 November 2008

Natalia Viktorova

Voice of Russia World Service



Sevastopol Residents Smash Pro-NATO Billboards


Residents of the Crimean city of Sevastopol destroyed billboards put up by the Ukrainian government to promote NATO membership, a RIA-Novosti correspondent said Saturday. A campaign urging people to support the country’s bid for NATO membership started in 40 towns of the Crimean Peninsula on orders from the Foreign Ministry ahead of next month’s NATO session in Brussels. Sevastopol residents are tearing down and splashing paint over posters saying “The Ukraine Plus NATO Equals Security!” and “Next Stop Is NATO!” despite threats from the police to open criminal probes for doing so.

“Propaganda for this aggressive military bloc in a city that hosts the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and where 97 percent of the population are [ethnic] Russians is a political provocation on the part of Kiev”, Vasili Parkhomenko, a local Communist Party leader, said. Organisers said the campaign aims to tell people that NATO is a “peacekeeping organization by no means threatening Russia. We must convey the truth about the alliance to Ukrainians, now that they have chosen the European path”, a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman said. According to opinion polls, most Ukrainians are opposed to joining NATO.

The foreign ministers of the 26 NATO member states will meet in Brussels on 2-3 December to decide whether the Ukraine and Georgia are ready to join the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP). NATO refused at its summit in April to let Georgia and the Ukraine into the MAP, a key step towards membership of the alliance, but, promised to review the decision in December. The countries received strong US backing for their bids.

29 November 2008



Editor’s Note:

It is obvious that the Orangies are failing to “sell” NATO to the “Ukrainian” populace. When one considers that only a minority of the population speaks “Ukrainian” regularly, and that a majority speak Russian, one can understand the situation readily. Let’s see… Saakashvili went to college in America, and Yushchenko is married to an American woman… add in the loudmouth North American Galician diaspora… stir in a soupçon of Polish fascist Prometheanism from the hand of Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzeziński… it’s quite a devil’s brew, isn’t it? Best to stay away from such and let these kleptocracies rot on the vine, it’s none of America’s concern. We have more pressing matters to attend to at home.


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