And so now we move into the final reunion between Pierre and his father. Like all Tolstoy, it’s understated. No words pass between them. Is his father really glad to see him? Is he past all that? It’s never really made clear (though, obviously, the background from the last couple of chapters has made us realise how much the Count does love Pierre). In fact, the whole scene is a bit surreal – but I’m sure that those of you out there (and it’s never been me yet, fortunately), who have waited by the bedside of someone who’s life is measured in days or hours, may have found that experience to be like that. You don’t know, in those last hours, how much that person comprehends or understands. Such is aging and death . . .
Should also say, while I’m at it, I appreciated the mention of the “subdued, deep bass singing” (or chanting) of the priests. If you’ve never heard it, Russian Orthodox church music is quite an experience. It headed in completely different directions from Western church music. It all consists of one single melody line, with a lot of low, quiet harmonies underneath – so there’s none of the flashy parts intersecting in and out, like they do in baroque music. There is no accompaniment from any instruments.
It rarely gets loud or fast. It’s always slow and contemplative. And this musical style continued well in
to the 20th century, until the introduction of Communism removed the Church from being part of Russian life. Anyway, so if you get a chance to find a track or two of Russian Sacred Choral Music on iTunes, I’d give it a try. You may not want to listen to heaps of it, but it’ll certainly be a different experience from anything you hear in churches in the West. It’ll also give you the feel of the singing that was going on here in Count Bezukhov’s bedroom.
Anyway, my breakfast is ready . . . so I’ll see you all tomorrow.