Theme Russe

This week began on Monday with Philly Thrive supporting the launch of a campaign on behalf of the Whole Homes Repair Act.  State Senator NIkil Saval initiated this legislation which will provide assistance for people to repair their homes, and stay in the neighborhood instead of selling to developers.  That’s the Senator speaking in the picture with me behind him in the Philly Thrive t-shirt.  I see the need for this help every Friday as I deliver groceries for Philly Thrive in Grays Ferry,

Today, Saturday, the week came to a musical close with a concert by the Camarata ensemble in Holy Trinity Church on Rittenhouse Square.  It was one of their loveliest performances.  First planned for April 2020, it had been delayed for two years by the pandemic.  Even that early in the pandemic, it included an original piece for cello and voice called “Incalculable Loss.”  The composer Stanley Grill, who was present for the performance, set some poems to cello music.  The poems were written by friends about the first deaths from COVID. I liked that the violist Sarah Sutton read each poem before it was sung by the mezzo-soprano Kyle Engler.  The singer has a lovely voice, but not all the sung words were clear because of the acoustics in the church and the haunting cello accompaniment.

With people still dying from COVID and new variants spreading, “Incalculable Loss” was very timely.  It also had a poignant timbre because of all the death and suffering going on in Ukraine for the last month.  Ukraine was on my mind because the first piece on the program was Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 7.  The fourth movement is titled “Theme Russe” because Beethoven builds the music on a Russian song. Also, the quartet is one of three dedicated to the Tsar’s ambassador to Austria, Count Razumovsky.  Razumovsky was born in Ukraine of a Cossack family.

The third movement Adagio motto e mesto was solemn and reflective and saddening as it brought Ukraine to mind. The Russian tune used in the fourth movement is a lament, but Beethoven labeled the movement Allegro.  Even so I felt the lament of the third movement carrying over into the beginning of the fourth.

When I said hello to Sarah after the concert, she greeted me with the question “Are you still making trouble?”  I said “yes,” but wanted to post this picture from Monday to back up my answer.


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