I couldn't resist blipping this today, as I said farewell to Anatolii Artomonov, the well-known oktavist (basso profundo) from St Petersburg. He and I have known each other for the past 16 years; he's the only singer in Voskresenije who has come with Jurij every tour they've done. He speaks German, but very little English; I don't speak more than the odd phrase of German and have about 5 words of Russian, but we share a great deal of goodwill.
I think it's the goodwill that comes through as the most important component of this regular meeting - that and the opportunity to be immersed in that wonderful sonority that is Russian music, in a small church in what many elsewhere see as the back of beyond. It's a chance to share briefly in the lives of people whom politics might make seem alien to us - and a chance, I may say, that was seized upon this year as always by the people of Dunoon, whether it was a shopkeeper being pleased to put up a poster, or sell tickets for us, or a truly frail old person (even older than me and Anatolii) coming out on a hideously wet night to a church up a steep hill at the back of town.
And yes, we did talk politics over dinner last night, briefly but fascinatingly. It was, as my friend Jurij likes to say, "Very interesting".
It's hard to convey the accent ...