Discovering an estranged music? Tikhon Khrennikov (1913-2007)
What is this, the musician whose reputation is apparently captured in a Western box forever? This? …from another planet…the bizarre almost echo of the opening of his 3rd Piano Concerto…which leaks a painful cry from apparently simple music…what did this music come from? Do the clashing facts of his professional life, and his attempts to justify his professional behaviour, the composer who knelt in Yelets cathedral, mean that it cannot be “companion music” for us, music for our own journey, as Shostakovich’s mixture of satire, risk-taking anger and bone-grinding pain so clearly is?
I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to find Khrennikov’s music before the Internet, but since discovering his work casually, as it were, through it, I’ve found a powerful energy coming from it, and a wanting to come back to it again and again. I can’t agree that it’s worthy of the understandably angry Western dismissals it received after his death (I recall obit comments such as “the waffle of a party functionary”). I also wonder if such a closed attitude to Russia will do, now our voices seemed turned towards each other with such a howl of mutual bitterness? If people were and are angry with him – who was and is angry, and why? The banned composers of the late 1970s, whose voice Khrennikov apparently tried to turn off, like the water in a river?
I’m listening….what I find instead is the overheard mutter of a troubled wanderer, especially in the 3rd Piano Concerto, As for the life, I find any questions rebounding back on us, i.e. How much do we collude with the worst around us? How much are we led against ourselves, away from ourselves, by our own broken desires for power and recognition? What do we believe and why? How do we live it? Have any of us begun to answer such questions honestly and fairly?
An estranged music? If so, will anyone want to find themselves a fellow pilgrim with it? And if so, what does it say about them? I’m listening now to the slow movement of the 2nd Violin concerto, and it’s singing over my head like a bird in a storm, outside the window, over into the eroding distance. 10/04/15