Today’s piece is another one chosen by my son, who said he’s nominated it for the happiness playlist, because even in the more sombre bits, it gives him the sense that everything going to be ok, just as it was in the end for the Russians. And it made me happy today, because he was blasting it out for motivation whilst doing lots of tidying up. It’s long been one of his favourite pieces, and although it’s easy to dismiss it, perhaps it’s worth going back and listening again with young, fresh ears, especially in this magnificent performance by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and our favourite conductor, Vasily Petrenko. The first time we saw Petrenko conduct was a concert by the European Youth Orchestra. During the encore, he left the podium, and reappeared in the percussion section wielding a tambourine, so I like to imagine that he’s also playing the tambourine on this recording.
Two more things made me smile when I was sorting things out for this post. Whilst thinking about the picture, I remembered that in the St Petersburg Hermitage, there is a wonderful gallery of portraits of Russian generals and officers from the 1812 campaign, painted by an English painter, George Dawes. When Mum and I visited a few years ago, we were entranced by how characterful and individual each painting is – they aren’t flattering, stylised images, but real pictures of real men. There’s a selection here on George Dawes’ Wikipedia page and I’ve used the one of Kutuzov for this post. It also reminded me of my favourite Twitter thread ever, ‘Historical generals pointing out the toilets’