Russia, Putin, United States discussed on BBC World Service


Well, the opera is conducted by ignite. So's son is based usually in New York. But returned to Russia for the production. When my father was in those labor camps, particularly in the in the special camps so-called special camps in Siberia, and in Kazahstan, he was thinking how could I possibly ever describe this to the world? And he realized that the only way it could be done with be by describing just one day out of a ten year or twenty five year sentence that a typical prisoner was subject to the idea being that when you read it you hear all digest the one story and can therefore put it against the stories of thousands, millions of people who may have been through a similar experience. Absolutely. Because simply to cite statistics, obviously, or to some as to constantly implore, the reader to imagine how many people multiply this by. So that's not art. That's that's pamphleteering. No matter. How accurate it might be? But for an artist for writer, this I think was the. Genius approach. This was the right approach to the reader's mind. But also the reader's heart and on stage. How does it look to those sitting in the audience? What do they see what what's the actual spectacle in front of him in this production? It is on the chamber stage of the Bolshoi theatre. It is very much an environment in which I think the listener or the spectator is engrossed the idea I think from from the stage director is that the spectator becomes part almost part of the action. And what does it mean to you to be conducting this and to be conducting it back in Moscow to do it here to have those words, or in some cases spoken on stage that bring to mind, very directly, the extraordinary injustices to have all of this out in the open in the same geographical space and same cultural space where it happened is extremely important and fundamentally liberating I think for the performers and. Perhaps more so for the audit and on a personal level. And there you are in Moscow in the country that expelled your father. Yes, it was the Soviet Union then. And now it's Russia and a lot has changed, but I just wonder on a personal level. How that makes you feel well, it's it's tremendously satisfied pleased on a really fundamental level. And yes agreement vacation for my father and most importantly, really for the truth that he dared to speak that he dared to write for which he paid a high personal price. And yet that persevered in the end, and it really goes back to his famous words are actually his quoting of a Russian proverb one word of truth shall outweigh the whole world and really his life in the history of his works is a living testament to that property and on him, and what he would have thought. And I realized that to an extent a speculative question, but he spent the last fourteen years of his life back in Russia. What do you think he would make of the changes that had taken place by then? Then but also some of the criticism that he's leveled at Russia today. Well, it's difficult to say I don't presume to speak for him now. But I would just say that for 'em politics was as everybody says a dirty business in a way of thinking that is far below art and culture, but to the extent of its as we know necessary for a state to function. I mean, I think his approach was always quite pragmatic. Meaning it's not so much that I'm doing to support such a specific person or specific candidate. But really is it the right policy, and I think that would be his way of looking at today to ensure that things that mattered to him which still be the same today as they were before what of the wider picture because I know you're performing not just in this operatic performance. But you also got a piano solo concert coming up and also another confidence in Petersburg next week. Does this point two more trips to Russia in the future for you? I mean what what's the plan? I have been very actively conducting and playing so just performing the Russian in recent years, quite quite many years now. Now. And it's something that is again very gratifying for me because the cultural level musical level. If you will is extremely high. Generally, speaking, things are economically, of course, more more stable, and there's more money for everything including for art in your mind. Is there a role there to straddle two coaches in a sense as a Russian American for some of the political reasons we touched on a moment ago is it important for you to be seen to having a a foot in both camps. If you like, well, I think it's inevitable important. I don't make it my mission. If you will because still my mission is more modest is to do perhaps as more modest fort, or perhaps it's more grandiose, but it's really to do my job as well as they possibly can. And that of course for an artist and attempting to re imagine and reinterpret the heritage of Beethoven Brahms Shostakovich and anyone anyone else is monumental challenge. But yes, for ticker Lee in this current cool climate, shall we say, yes, it seems all the more important because these cultural. Bridges as they used to be called in the Cold War. When a lot of times, they were farcical, and yet also maybe served a purpose at times, certainly today when there is that virtually unrestricted of course, travel back and forth and internet and all the ways that people can communicate it's such an obvious, and I suppose irresistible way for people to relate to other and to that old trope that there is much more that unites us than divides us, and I think that's I if I can play a small role in that then all the better the Russian-American pianist and conductor Ignat Solzenitsyn Stephanie we began the program by talking about your family ties with Vermont and there's a tie. There's a soldier units in time with bemoaned. Yes, he eventually emigrated to the United States and lived in Vermont and a small town called Kevin dash about an hour away from where I grew up. And I think in true Vermont Yankee spirit, everyone left him alone. And didn't give him the privacy. He really. Craved? I think the weather was quite similar to what he had experienced in in Russia for Mont winters, particularly back, then were very cold and snowy. And so I think he felt very at home interesting that he was left alone to the extent that you described because I mean at the time he was an enormously, very well-known rather. Well, recognized international figure. Yes. Indeed. And as a teenager, I read his books the life of Yvonne, Denisovich and Gulag Archipelago. I remember really enjoying them. And I do feel like that he played some part in leading me eventually to live in Russia and developed my my love of Russian culture. I did look at the story and wonder how they can turn that book into an opera. It's quite harsh stuff. I think there was a film made of the book many years ago. I do see the Russian intellectual elite of many political stripes embracing that and really flocking flocking to. To that opera. Particularly because in his later years Sozhenitsyn. Supported Putin before of course, putting embarked on his foreign adventurism. So we don't know how he would view Putin today's Putin. So that I think makes him an easily embraced figure in Russia. Yes, I ventured into that political territory carefully with these sound because as you say by the time Putin was doing what he does. Now Alexander associates who is no longer with us the cooling of relations, the role of of this figure who can straddle both America and Russia, how important jazz is that kind of figured you think in the current geopolitical climate massively side, I think we we have an equivalent at the moment. I think the J playschool sort of dynamics which going on with Russia really concerning they seem to be acting with impunity throughout the world. I think one thing which you seen from Putin. Russia's is a very soft power. They're very good at buying their way into countries, you coach institutions be that running Chelsea football club of the same. Links between Abramovich impeach him. But they have their tentacles into many aspects of British life, for example. And. I think no one's really go to handle on how to deal with Peyton a journalistic take on that before we move on Stephanie from somebody who's who's lived in work there in the post. Yeah. I mean, obviously, there's a Putin today is posing. Unprecedented challenges to the global community through his sort of dark arts through Russian intelligence operations both in Europe and the United States. I think it remains to be seen how sanctions policy is really having an effect in some respects. I think you could argue at a strengthening Putin by driving some of the all Russian billionaires back home. Which is something that he has long wanted to shore up his role. You're listening to weekend from the BBC World Service. Reminder of our main news the agreement reached at.

Coming up next