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Photographing Flowers

There is no right or wrong way to photograph anything anymore. Even the technically worst photo may become a hit just because it’s struck a chord with the audience. Yet still it pays to try and look at a familiar subject from a different angle…

Paul Arden mentions two photos of flowers, one by André Kertész, another by Irving Penn, in both of which a photographer worked with a wilted (Kertész) or dead (Penn) flower. I attempted to undertake a similar task with a photo of two dried roses in a vase overlooking a rebuilt church in Tarusa, Kaluga Region.
I understand this is done automatically – a visual effect has been applied to my photo by Google+. I think you may enjoy it too.


The Oistrakh Quartet At the Tarusa Winter Festival, 2013

The town and vicinity of Tarusa are well-known for the love that great Russian artists, musicians, and writers had for it. I mentioned previously that Marina Tsvetaeva, Konstantin Paustovsky, Viktor Borisov-Musatov, and Nikolai Zabolotsky all lived in Tarusa at one or another period of their lives. However, there was one man-of-arts who acknowledged the salubrity of Tarussian air and the glory of its nature, and built himself a dacha in some distance from Tarusa town centre. This was Svyatoslav Richter, one of the outstanding pianists of the 20th c.

Richter founded several annual musical events, some of them specifically targeted at young audiences and musicians. The Svyatoslav Richter Foundation regularly organises the Tarusa musical festival, and this year there was a special event in early January, called “Tarusa Winter Festival”, that lasted from 5 to 7 of January, 2013. I attended it on January 6, 2013 – and was lucky to listen to the David Oistrakh string quartet perform  Edvard Grieg, Maurice Ravel, and Dmitry Shostakovich.
The David Oistrakh Quartet: Andrey Baranov, Sergei Pischugin,
Fedor Belugin, and Alexey Zhilin (courtesy of the official website)
The quartet consists of Andrey Baranov, the first violinist, who symbolically won the first prize at the Queen Elizabeth International Violin Competition 75 years after it had been won by David Oistrakh himself. Just as Richter is considered one of the best pianists of the 20th c., so is Oistrakh the best violinist. His legacy lives in the second violinist of the quartet, Sergei Pischugin, who was Oistrakh’s student. Over the course of his career Pischugin played in the Glinka and subsequently the Shostakovich Quartets. With the latter he recorded virtually all string quartet repertoire existing. The violist Fedor Belugin played with Pischugin in the Shostakovich Quartet and has been successful at combining teaching activities at the Moscow Conservatoire and the Gnesin Music School with both quartet and solo performances. Finally, the cellist Alexey Zhilin is considered one of the best Russian cellists of his generation. He often performs as a soloist with chamber and symphonic orchestras in Russia and abroad.
In 2012 the family of David Oistrakh donned the famous violinist’s name to the quartet.
So, on January 6, 2013 the David Oistrakh Quartet performed Edvard Grieg’s Quartet no. 1, Op. 27, G-moll and Maurice Ravel’s Quartet F-dur. As it happens, however, the public was so fond of the performances, the quartet had to play a bonus piece… and that was Polka by Dmitry Shostakovich. The videos below are Ravel’s Quartet F-Dur, Allegro moderato, tres doux; and Shostakovich. I also included a recording of Shostakovich’s Polka by the Rasumowsky Quartet.

Winter 2013 in Tarusa

A small town in Kaluga Region scattered along the Oka River, Tarusa has long been loved by the creative folk. The Tsvetaev family used to live here, including Marina Tsvetaeva; their house museum is open to the public nowadays. Konstantin Paustovsky, one of the principal Russian authors who had been considered for the Nobel Prize but “lost” to Mikhail Sholokhov, resided here and was buried at the local cemetery. Viktor Borisov-Musatov, an outstanding Russian painter, died and was also buried in Tarusa. Marina Tsvetaeva, as a matter of fact, also wanted to be laid to rest here, and to complete her wish, someone local had set a stone on the spot she had once chosen for her grave. Nikolai Zabolotsky, a wonderful Russian poet, spend the last two years on his life in Tarusa, the house where he lived still standing, although looking half-forgotten.

Across the Oka is the famous Polenovo, an estate named after the painter Vassily Polenov. Tarusa thus overlooks Tula Region which is ever easily accessible in winter: now that Oka sleeps under the shield of ice and snow, people cross it on snow-mobiles, skies, and on foot.
I discovered Tarusa and first visited it in August 2012. I made a few wonderful friends here, artists, writers, sculptors, and the place’s fresh air never ceases to inspire. The sonnet you read recently was composed on the first night of my recent stay in Tarusa.

Poetry: Those Sleepless Nights

Those sleepless nights when ceiling is like a sky,
Heavy with floods of never ending thoughts,
Hiding the long-forgotten thunderbolts
Of memories and regrets that never die –

Those sleepless nights, with feelings running high,
When you’re but forced to re-enlist your faults;
When Fear creeps under the dingy vaults
Of splendid palace of your passing Time, –

Let those nights be blessed with your pain
And every loss, untimely and vain –
To err is human, have you never known?

Let rain pour down and flood your corridors,
Let thunder break the windows, walls and doors,
So you rebuild all that was overthrown.

Julia Shuvalova 2013

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