A Letter To Bernie

Dear Bernie,

It is important to search for the light in the overwhelming darkness. This is a good example

This video I made is just a convenient carriage for its soundtrack - I took it from a very scratchy Austrian record I bought for 20 pence. I've been able to clean-up the audio to a remarkable degree.

It's the allegretto from Shostakovich's 2nd Piano Trio. He finished composing it late in 1944 and it had its première in Leningrad shortly after.

His friend and mentor Sollertinski had died a few months earlier and all of Russia was still stunned by the news from the liberation of Majdanek.

David Rabinovich commented "There is no ray of light in the piano trio..." but then goes on to say "... the composer reminds us of death for the sake of life".

Is that not the glimmer of a candle in the distance?

Here's another:

I cannot believe that the three clearly remarkable teenagers who played the piece so well, could have done so without really understanding it.

They were 16, 17 and 18 year-old Germans playing at a young musicians competition in Austria in 1971. Is that not at least a  spark? A spark bright enough to light the whole world, if only for the briefest  moment?

It's just enough to get one's bearings, set one's course before the all enveloping gloom returns...

In a quiet place, either you will hear silence or you will here Silence.

(They are like identical twins born a generation apart and raised on opposite sides of the world. They are the same and yet utterly difference. But I digress).

Silence is kin to Darkness - but they are not brothers. Darkness has disowned his evil cousin.

My quiet place has Silence and yet it is spoilt by a voice on the threshold of hearing. As I strain to hear I recognise the  accent. Is it Goethe, Schiller or just Angela Merkel boring people with talk of taxes?

No! It is a thin, strident voice and as I cover my ears its words break through

“Sechzigtausend Reichmarks kostet dieser Erbkranke die Volksgemeinschaft auf Lebenszeit”.

I press my hands harder to my head but it's no good, the voice just gets louder...

“Volksgenosse das ist auch Dein Geld!”

A flight of fancy? A baroque conceit?  Perhaps, but have you ever heard the way people talk about gypsies around here?

Ah! The darkness has returned: I must go find a candle.

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