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Cliché of Cultures: French charm, Slavic soul, and German melancholy
Cliché of Cultures: French charm, Slavic soul, and German melancholy

Wed, Jan 24


New York

Cliché of Cultures: French charm, Slavic soul, and German melancholy

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Time & Location

Jan 24, 2024, 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM

New York, 7 E 95th St, New York, NY 10128, USA

About The Event

In our world, amazing stereotypes and clichés often emerge that embody nations: the Russian or Slavic soul and its 'heartiness', the French 'frivolity' and lightness, and the German precision and 'fundamentalness'. It's clear that each term describes a stereotype that, while perhaps attractive to some, clearly oversimplifies the diversity of these different cultures, doesn't it?

Imagine a world where art throws an eccentric New Year's Eve party. Here comes the Slavic soul, mysterious and thoughtful, as diverse as a Tolstoy novel on a rainy day; then appears French frivolity, fresh and excited, like a croissant in Paris; and all this is observed by German sorrowful precision, so sharp that even in a German paradise  the train schedule is accurate to the second. Will they all invite each other to a joint waltz...? So, are these stereotypes just artistic caricatures, or do they capture something essential in the national spirit?

Let's begin with the Slavic soul - deep, dark, and dramatic. It seems every Russian novel competes for the title of "The Most Magnificent Way to Boil One's Blood". Here, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are our laureates, and Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, and Rachmaninoff are close behind. But is it true that a few greats can characterize the soul of an entire nation? Dostoevsky challenges us, saying: "The measure of a nation is not what it is, but what it considers beautiful and true." Wow! So, is the Russian soul just a refined term for "we feel deeply"? But why, for example, did Mandelstam - a deeply Russian poet (Jewish by blood) - specifically yearn for and "long for world culture"?

Now let's move on to French frivolity. Ah, France: where even the air seems infused with romance, and everyone is a connoisseur of something. This is the country of wines, cheeses, and Impressionist art, which seems painted with fairy pollen. But let's be honest: isn't this just a glossy tourist brochure of France? Perhaps French frivolity is not just sipping Chardonnay in chic cafes; perhaps it's a deep passion for life's beautiful moments, if we dare to read, for example, Flaubert, Descartes, or Proust?

And here we come to German fundamentalness and precision. Bach, Beethoven, Dürer, Kant - these geniuses were not just creating art; they were building cathedrals of thought and sound, where the whole and content define the details and magnificently embodied form. But is German art really all work and no play? Beneath this disciplined exterior lies remarkable liveliness and inspiration, and even wit - (who would have thought? Read some of Kant's later works, for example). Behind every precise line of Bach's music or Dürer's painting lies a divine enlightenment-charm, (an excess of content?) hinting at the absurdity of trying to package human experience into neat, orderly frames.

It seems to me that charm and charisma are the secret ingredients that give each culture its unique flavor. Therefore, in our salon, we will try to focus on the charm of these nations and show how in art, these stereotypes are either shattered or confirmed! You will hear Schubert's music with his famous melancholic Fantasy in F minor and charming, slightly frivolous duets by Bizet. Soulful and impressionistic sketches by Rachmaninoff and the more restrained longing of Dvorak. As for other arts, we will try to surprise you with examples of Russian and Dutch animation, poignant photographs by Josef Sudek, and, of course, the charm of the films of the French New Wave.

Regarding the performers, I am happy to introduce two Inessas: (make your wishes 🙏) the magnificent pianist Inessa Zaretskaya with whom we will play duets and our film alchemist, Inessa Gordeiko.

Preparing  for our  concert, it seems important to remind ourselves: art is not just a mirror of the national soul, but rather a dialogue with our common human essence. Sometimes heavy, sometimes playful, but never boring! So let's continue to dance, sing, and, of course, sometimes shock a little!

Musically yours 


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