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"In the Mirror of Moments". Elena Shatokhina

Though summer was still in full swing and there could hardly be any inkling of autumn in the air, it started raining repeatedly after the sunset. The music of rain was in the trembling of wet glossy leaves, it was heard in the tyres' rustling of the cars, that moved slowly through the downfall of rain.

The daylight has faded in the room, and only a 'noble' grand piano still bears vibrant specks of light on its varnish. The lid of the piano is open, as might a case of a typer or any other working tool be, ready to call the master in the most inappropriate time of the day or night. Slightly stooping, the composer walks to and fro, carefully skirting the angles of the piano, as if indifferent to the instrument, but still never forgetting about it. He is like an actor, not engaged in the scene, who is seemingly indifferent to the stage director, but ne­vertheless watchful and sensitive to his tiniest call and wish.

It is quiet in the room, only the tape recorder is playing in undertones the musical piece for the film Maria, Mirabela, where all the alive fairy inhabitants come to a mutual agreement, and where violins timidly enter into the music.

"Well, isn't it good? It is good!", the composer asks unexpectedly, casting a furtive glance at me, as if trying to learn the first impression of the listener and potential spectator of the yet unfinished Soviet-Rumanian film, based on Ion Kryange's tale. One should not take Doga's a bit relaxed manner of intercourse with people for 'creating a public image or for self-complacency. It was the period, difficult for every artist, when the work was finished, but was still holding the author's thoughts and emotions, asking for appreciation. The work was finished and Doga came into the spell of emptiness and nothingness, tormenting and unbearable after strenuous work and sleepless nights. His soul was yearning for something yet unknown, and he wandered restlessly, a captive of the bygone moments.

I cannot forget the interview with the composer during the summer shower, which was lavishly falling on the White City of his songs. That interview could have been hardly called a successful one: my curiosity was burning, my writing-pad was crammed up with fragmentary, disconnected notes which would not merge into a single whole. Our dialogue went on with an outward ease, but each of us seemed to realize that words were merely a background, and it was not yet the time to get to the core and essence of things. "I've got an idea", Doga said suddenly, "would you come to my recital, and we'd better have a talk afterwards..."

Certainly, it was a kick out: a small revenge for having been asked stereotyped questions again and again. And he rightly regarded himself wider than such questions supposed him to be. Certainly, it could not but evoke regret and vexation that Melodia recording firm was lagging behind some Western companies in producing his discs; that his symphonic, vocal, choral and chamber-instrumental music was played in concerts so seldom; that a real appreciation was gained only by several songs and musical pieces, such as: / Dreamed I Reared the Sound of Rain..., My White City, Waltz for the film A Hunting Accident, Ballade for Ion Drutse's play The Birds of Our Youth, and a few more, pitilessly exploited in TV and radio programmes.

I was puzzled: Doga was given great of public attention,-but, as it turned out, it was not a real understanding and appraisal, since it did not regard his work in its full scope, in all its controversies and complexity. An artist expresses himself in various forms and shapes, but we, nevertheless, would choose only one feature, one movement, only because we took it as the most characteristic of him. Such approach is both unjust and harmful. And I had to go to the recital, one of his first 'serious' concerts. It was the time when everything was gaining speed and going on in crescendo way. He performed many things, and then — his Waltz again. The magical sounds of this waltz — a living classic already — astringent with bitter misgivings, soared and died away in the air.

Emil Lotyanu, the film director of A Hunting Accident, once said that the waltz on the lake shore was the film's living nerve, 'the finiest texture of sounds, woven of dreams and realities, of cravings and forebodings...' A human drama was told by the music without words. If one tried to translate this waltz into the language of colours, he would most likely do it in light, transparent, energetic and free strokes of pastel shades. Doga's music is impressionistic owing to its unsteady and everchanging nature. It is poetic, translucent, it does not move, but it goes in a fluent and gracious flow.

The waltz creates a visual image of the lake waves, going round in circles. These circles are getting wider and wider in the space, sounding of despair and ruin to Olga, lonely and proud, dreaming of happiness. The music provides new implications for the drama, it makes the characters more subtle and profound. And it is not seldom that Doga's music has become an integral part of action, especially in Lotyanu films.

The concert in which N. Chepraga, M. Ivanush and — a beginner then — A. Lazariuk performed Ye. Doga's songs came to an end. Then there were flowers, asking for authographs, and Doga, his face helpless and naive, was standing among this tumult. He was being shot for TV, congratulated by his famous collea­gues, who were telling him something kind and reassu­ring, touching him by the elbow. Doga was beginning to be appraised for his ownness, to be assumed as himself.

His way to music was not a traditional one: there was no old 'Bekker' piano, no parental insistent guidance and innumerable scales, rubbing away tender fingers of the child. There were no musical celebrities in framed portraits and their names did not form the background of his childhood. But music, nevertheless, did find its way through an early orphanhood, the war and poverty. It lived in the self-made — out of a waste sieve — mandoline, it lived in the village weddings drum beating, in the headphones of the also self-made radio set. The world was full of music for the boy, and his mother was the first to understand it: 'Go and study, if you are so keen on it...' She could give him for the way but a pair of trousers, altered from his father's old ones. And if you wonder today where his infinite perseverance, obstinacy and expectation are from, they are surely from his childhood. It may seem strange, but a gifted person is not weakened by hardships, he only gets stronger in overcoming them. And everything gained without effort often becomes ruinous for one's love of life and one's striving after going forward.

At school and later at conservatoire Doga had teachers whom he tenderly loved and whom he has been always grateful to. He became a musical school teacher himself, but a certain feeling of discontent was inciting him to change his life. Later he was an accompanist in the Moldavian TV and Radio orchestra. His colleagues recollect that during the rehearsal intervals when all the rest were playing chess or merely chattering the time away, Doga would not leave the piano and was wholly engrossed in playing some musical bits. And it was obvious for everyone that he was a composer and not merely a performer of somebody else's music.

After rehearsals Doga usually mounted his motor scooter and rushed along old Kishinev streets, all green with curly grape vines. A constant want of speed, of acceleration in everything was the most urgent with him.

And his life did start to gain speed at last. His scooter broke down in the most inappropriate place — opposite the Opera House. Among a dozen of idlers, who watched Doga's attempts to make the scooter go, there was Georgiy Vode, a beginning poet and film-di­rector, as young as Doga himself. He was agonizingly trying to place the lad's face and at last recognized him as the author of the songs popular with students. Vode came up to the composer smeared up with oil and asked if he didn't mind having a go at films.

Everything that followed was like an outburst, a storm of blossoming. It was a 'cinematographic era', which had brought under its spell all the creative forces in the republic. Moldova-film studio united such artists as Emil Lotyanu, Georgiy Vode, Vlad Iovitse, Valeriy Gazhiu and many others who came to speak out their individualities in this art, new to them. And all their plans to become a reality, among everything else, needed music.

Thus Doga has entered that stormy, uneven and happy period of his work in the cinema which is still going on. He was the author of music for more than a hundred films, some best of which — early Lotyanu's — won the golden prizes at many International Film Festivals. The juries of the film festivals both in San-Sebastian and in Moscow marked the composer's work on a par with the film-director's — 'for the peculiar, poetic music, its complete merging with the visual images.

Poet Mikhail Svetlov once said that the faster time flies, the slower a writer's thought should be, which is true of any artist. Kishinev, unlike many other big industrial cities, still keeps the quietness and calm of the provinces; and it is conducive to a profound and fussless immersion into creative process.

Here in Moldavia Doga formed into a composer, moulding his self against the hardships of life and throughout a long period of artistic growth. And here he started his unrestrained creative ascent, having cleared himself of all influences, to become a master of his own theme and vision.

The composer's attitude to his creation does not coincide with the regard of musical critics depicting him as a man who has established himself at the apex of his fortune. He would be more willing to compare himself to a small boy, having climbed up a high tree, tempted by the best fruit at the top. The ground is far away down, and thin branches are swaying under his weight, and the fruit are seductive and calling. And there is no way backwards...

Sometimes, though, he is more confident while speaking about his work: "There is only one thing I dream of; that something might intervene — a chance illness or some other absurdity. I am working now with an unusual ease and happiness. The music, yet unwritten, sounds in me, and I'm in an awful hurry to put it down. I'm so full of energy: should you offer me an opera libretto now, it seems to me I could write the music in a month..."

It was the time when he cherished the idea of Luchaferul ballet. He wrote music to some scenes, but put this work aside for a while.

"I started composing the ballet as early as 1973. But when it came to the musical image of Luchaferul, the work stumbled. As it turned out, I was simply not ready for it. I could not portray that personage by means of music, and though the beginning was rather successful, I had to stop. Ten more years passed in writing songs, film music, a lot of other things, and it was only when I started composing music for the children videofflm This Fantastic World that I felt the closeness of this make-belief world to that eternal, alluring world of the sky, where the star-boy had lived. But there should have been an additional impulse for music to appear...

Luchaferul, a well-known poem by the great Mol­davian poet Mikhail Eminescu, has not been used either by theatre or cinema for quite a long time because of its boundlessness of thought and complexity. Philo­sophy and lyrics, a parable and real facts, a multitude of themes interwoven with one another into a single plot — all these comprise the body of the poem. Emi-nescu's personal ideas and emotions expressed in it are so human in their nature, that they have become eternal and universal.

"When composing I always try to find a definite shape. I believe that there is some mysterious moment of coincidence. If I can find and express it in my music, the listener will respond to it and perceive it as an echo of his own emotions. Let him think afterwards of some­thing entirely different — he is already my collaborator. The origin of such a coincidence is a mystery. Sometimes, for instance, I have to compose something in a short time, but, alas, I can't. Then I choose a book and start reading. Three days are left, but I'm still reading. And then suddenly the music comes in a flow and fills the whole of my being. Something has rendered me a required formula, something emotional and inexplicable, since the characters of the book I read lived a different and remote life. But the formula has been given and it helps to decipher the meaning of my own emotional supplies, which needed a hint, a prompt to rise to the surface of consciousness.

Doga is a State Prize winner, but the highest award did not change his nature: he did not become an impo­sing person either in his attitudes or in his way of life. He works as passionately as ever and is always dissa­tisfied with the results achieved. Now he is composing a new ballet about good and evil, about progressive forces confronting reaction; the factual ground for it is being taken from the history of Latin America. And one may be sure that a bright, optimistic and tender note, so characteristic of Doga's music, will reveal itself in the new ballet as well.

This note modifies one of the most tragic Doga's songs — A Human Voice (lyrics by Robert Rozhde-stvensky). This is an antiwar song, an appeal to people to linger and perceive the wonder of the land. Had the song been written in an 'alarm' manner, it would not be so impressive. A free flowing melody is the beauty itself, like our planet, its nature and people on it with all their love and striving for happiness. The tenderness and delicacy of the song make it sound like a whisper amidst a chaos, and all this strikes one much more than loudness of alarm-bells.

We are always shy to use such words as 'gift' and 'revelation', as if our emotional appraisal is not enough and we need something more authoritative to confirm and adjust our own feeling. And even having Uttered the words 'talent', 'genious' and 'glory', we are still uncertain as to what is talent and what is glory. Try as we would, we could not give an adequate explanation of talent only in terms of creative process, school, influ­ence and industry. Talent is a rare and unique phenome­non of nature, and, like nature itself, it belongs to the people...

Though dying away with its last chords, Doga's music gives you a happy chance to look into the emotional depth of your soul, as if you saw it in a mirror, in the mirror of the moment...

"In the Mirror of Moments". Elena Shatokhina.

Publishing house "Timpul", 1989. 



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