A dacha is a summer home for Russians, away from the hurly-burly of the city, and can be as primitive as a cabin or as elaborate as a palace. A much-favored place for gatherings of intellectuals, dachas are a favored literary setting. In this film, adapted by Nikita Mikhailkov from Anton Chekhov's first play and some of his other works, the schoolteacher Platonov (Alexander Kalyagin) has come with his wife to spend a summer weekend at a friend's dacha. Among the other guests there, he meets his former lady-love Sophia (Elena Solovei), who is now married to another. Even though he thought he had recovered from his disappointed affection for her, he finds that this is not so for at least two reasons. First, she only recently got married; secondly, she is married to an idiot. Nostalgia spurs them to investigate their affection for one another, but eventually, as they remember their stations in life, their old love does not seem so important.
In 1832 Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47) wrote to his sister Fanny that is what about time he wrote some ‘good trios’. He had already started but left unfinished a trio for piano, violin and viola, and started the D minor trio shortly after, completing it in 1839. Mendelssohn’s friend the composer-pianist Ferdinand Hiller advised him after the completion to make several revisions to make the work sound as up to date as possible – Hiller, was a pupil of Hummel was a keen supporter of Berlioz and Liszt. The result is a work of perfect proportions, with a brilliant piano part, skilful counterpoint and a wonderful blend of classical poise and romantic passion. Schumann reviewing the Leipzig premiere on 1840 commented that the trio was a masterpiece that would ‘bring joy to our children and grandchildren’. The 2nd trio is dedicated to the great German violinist and composer Louis Spohr.
Marie Jaëll probably represents the most authoritative and accomplished expression of the nineteenth-century woman musician. In spite of her coming from the provinces and despite the heavy social restrictions imposed on artists of her gender, she nonetheless succeeded in being recognized as a virtuoso, a composer and as a teacher. Support from her husband – the Austrian pianist Alfred Jaëll – greatly contributed to the positive reception of her initial works for the piano, but it was by herself, armed with her talent and her resolve in the latter part of her life, that she faced up to the Parisian hurly-burly in which she proved herself to be one of its distinctive figures. While her learning method is still taught in various different countries, little interest thus far has been shown in her music, which in the greater part is held in the Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire in Strasbourg. Formidable and ambitious symphonic works are revealed on this book-cd as well as a significant facet of her compositions for the piano.