From The East In Music


  • laurent cabasso (piano)
  • & images from "d'est" by chantal akerman

“Figures waiting for a train or a bus ; trudging along the snow-covered streets, arms laden with packages. Mute, because history has taught them it is better to stay that way. These are the people that I had in mind when I chose Rachmaninoff ’s sonata : because through the piece, its soul, so Russian, with its infinite tenderness, I have the impression of ghosting my way into their secret world, of engaging with them, perhaps even gaining insights into what these men and women might have told us, might have been telling themselves during the interminable waiting that was part of everyday life in the Soviet Union. Unlike Rachmaninoff, Shnittke’s sonata emphasises the menacing edge of Stalinist architecture, the yellow light from lampposts in streets and station lobbies. Not even the shrilling of children’s voices in the street could ruffle the leaden blanket. The uncompromising construction of the work lends more dramatic power to this imagery. Yet there is life here and it is this life that ultimately wins out as we are transported into the company of clumsy couples in their Sunday best, dancing in a grand hotel in Moscow. Their awkwardness is precisely why they are so moving. Prokofiev’s Adagio gives the impression that they are dancing in a dream, at times in step, then out again. Yet it is in those elsewhere moments that they forget everything and can escape from it all…”

Sergueï Rachmaninov, vocalise for cello and piano
Sergueï Rachmaninov, Sonata Op.19 for cello and piano
Leoš Janáček/ Franck Krawczyk, Song on a moravian poem for solo cello
Alfred Schnittke, Sonate n°1 for cello and piano
Sergueï Prokofiev, Adagio Op.67 for cello and piano

Images : Chantal Akerman
: Sonia Wieder-Atherton et Chantal Akerman
Cello : Sonia Wieder-Atherton
Piano : Laurent Cabasso
Lightning design : Franck Thévenon
Co-production Les Visiteurs du Soir, La Ferme du Buisson,
Festival Temps d’images, La Filature, Arsenal de Metz,
Cité de la Musique de Paris, Romaeuropa Festival
Photos credits : extracts « D’Est » a movie by Chantal Akerman & ARR