Together with Masha and her husband Victor, Jory and I went to a memorable concert in the Concertgebouw in February. Valery Gergiev was conducting the Mariinski Orchestra from St. Petersburg performing Shostakovich’s 15th symphony, his last. It was a very special and exceptionally impressive concert. The overwhelming beauty of the composition and performance were such that I continued to hear parts of it playing through my mind for weeks afterwards.

During the concert the sounds of Shostakovich unconsciously blended in my mind with the visual perceptions I had experienced a few days earlier in Masha’s studio when looking at her recent work. The shifts in tone and key in Shostakovich’s masterpiece have a range that stretches from the graceful violin solos and extremely sophisticated, sometimes almost magical percussion, to the powerful tension of Russian melancholy in intense orchestral pieces.

Between these extremes of transparent, light tones and intense, robust sounds, the image of Masha’s recent paintings and monoprints likewise came to mind. Transparent and graceful, almost magical are the paintings where pastel colours set the key. Counterpoise is then always provided by the powerful gestures and solid forms.  The monoprints and the unusual round panels are convincing in black and in their full gravity. Their composition is extremely apt.

Shostakovich’s last masterpiece ends with light and rhythmic percussion notes against fading orchestral music. Gergiev held on to this silence before the applause broke out. A few seconds of utmost concentration and tension. Masha is a Dutchwoman with a Russian Soul. She, too, is able to hold on to concentration and tension. In her own work she is both composer and conductor.

Paul van Rosmalen, Amsterdam, April 2011