Café Mouffe: From Largo To Allegro

Clip 1: Dmitri Shostakovich. Largo (3rd movement). Sonata for Cello and Piano (op. 40). No documentation is available for the performance.

Tom’s response to re-reading the poem I wrote for him in 1975 sent me straight to Shostakovich. I needed to hear just this movement, the largo, from his Sonata for Cello and Piano (op. 40). It took me back to the winter of 1973-74, a quiet yet turbulent time of transformation for me. I have approached but never fully engaged it in my writing. Maybe now the time is at hand.

That winter I listened to the cello sonata almost every night. I turned off the lights, sat alone in my room, and listened. Sometimes I dutifully began at the beginning, progressing through all the movements. Other times I went straight to the largo. I’d play it over and over again if there were no one else in the house who would notice or object to the repetition. This quietly intense yet expansive music taught me how to claim an introspective space, my room of one’s own, where I could sort out what was happening to me. As I entered the sonata, I struggled with the metaphorical baggage that burdens this archetypal myth called “going blind.” I emerged gradually from largo to allegro, night by night, with a deepening sense of wonder for what Pablo Neruda called “an ear coming into the world.”

Clip 2: Dmitri Shostakovich. Allegro (2nd movement). Sonata for Cello and Piano (op. 40). Mstislav Rostropovich owns for eternity the entire canon of Russian cello music, in my humble opinion. He is accompanied on piano here by his daughter Elena. No date or location is listed in the documentation. In the time I write about here, I took my father to hear Rostropovich in concert. Who took whom? I had the press passes. He drove and described sotto voce what was happening on stage. That’s a story for another time.

Café Mouffe opens every Friday at 3:00 p.m. Please drop by for a listen and a chat. Sometimes the embedded videos don’t work here due to bandwidth constraints, but you’ll always find links to video sources in the set notes. Try them. If you’re curious about the Mouffe, here’s the original idea behind it’s creation.

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