One-Year War and Peace E1.6 – Love Blooming

Reading for Saturday, June 6

We kind of all knew this chapter was coming – Marya and Nikolai finally get together. (I think that’s definitely the nail in Sonya’s coffin lid . . .)

It’s, of course, completely like Nikolai to be too proud to marry her for her money and also completely like Marya not to push him after he showed an interest in her.

I think the nice thing about how this panned out was that at least we’re pretty sure that they are getting together because they like one another – it’s not another Pierre and Helene we’re setting up here.

But still, I reckon she’ll have her work cut out for her . . . don’t tell Marya I said that, though.

And now for another installment of the Busoni. Despite the majestic main theme that the orchestra set up, you might have noticed (if you watched the video yesterday), that the pianist actually didn’t play around with that too much. Which is what a piano concerto is about, really. The orchestra plays a theme, the pianist elaborates on it.

But, from what I’ve been able to work out, there’s not a lot of that – at least in this movement. In this second video, the movement continues and we realise that yesterday the pianist was only warming up. In this video, Busoni flogs him within an inch of his life. There’s nothing quite like a pianist having to keep up with a monstrously complex piece of music – enjoy!

One-Year War and Peace E1.5 – The Decline of the Rostovs

Reading for Friday, June 5

And so at last Pierre and Natasha are married. Oddly enough, the wedding is almost an incidental event in this chapter (despite the long build up – we’ve been waiting almost the entire novel for this!).

Instead, it’s the decline of the Rostovs that we witness. Old Count Rostov dies from depression and the guilt that he squandered the family fortune. Then we’re left with Nikolai trying to pay off the family debts and gradually finding himself in trouble as well.

But possibly the darkest moment in this chapter is his relationships with Sonya. From one of the most innocent of friendships at the beginning of the book, there’s nothing there now. We kind of expected this, but it does seem a bit hard on Sonya. Still, there’s a few more chapters to go – something might work out for him.

In the meantime, while you’re waiting for the next post, I’m going to post up this YouTube – it’s not really a video, but it’s the only place in the world where you can currently hear this amazing performance by Marc-Andre Hamelin and the Tonhalle Orchestra of Switzerland of the Piano Concerto by Ferrucio Busoni. It’s an obscure piece of music, but it’s completely epic. It’s in eight parts and runs for more than an hour (and what piano concerto runs for more than an hour?), so we’ll just do it in parts. Here’s Part One: