At the concert in the afternoon two very interesting things were
performed. One was a fantasia, King Lear; the other was a
quartette dedicated to the memory of Bach. Both were new and in
the new style, and Levin was eager to form an opinion of them.
After escorting his sister-in-law to her stall, he stood against
a column and tried to listen as attentively and conscientiously
as possible. He tried not to let his attention be distracted,
and not to spoil his impression by looking at the conductor in a
white tie, waving his arms, which always disturbed his enjoyment
of music so much, or the ladies in bonnets, with strings
carefully tied over their ears, and all these people either
thinking of nothing at all or thinking of all sorts of things
except the music. He tried to avoid meeting musical connoisseurs
or talkative acquaintances, and stood looking at the floor
straight before him, listening.
But the more he listened to the fantasia of Ring Lear the further
he felt from forming any definite opinion of it. There was, as
it were, a continual beginning, a preparation of the musical
expression of some feeling, but it fell to pieces again directly,
breaking into new musical motives, or simply nothing but the
whims of the composer, exceedingly complex but disconnected
sounds. And these fragmentary musical expressions, though
sometimes beautiful, were disagreeable, because they were utterly
unexpected and not led up to by anything. Gaiety and grief and
despair and tenderness and triumph followed one another without
any connection, like the emotions of a madman. And those
emotions, like a madman's, sprang up quite unexpectedly.
During the whole of the performance Levin felt like a deaf man
watching people dancing, and was in a state of complete
bewilderment when the fantasia was over, and felt a great
weariness from the fruitless strain on his attention. Loud
applause resounded on all sides. Everyone got up, moved about,
and began talking. Anxious to throw some light on his own
perplexity from the impressions of others, Levin began to walk
about, looking for connoisseurs, and was glad to see a well-known
musical amateur in conversation with Pestsov, whom he knew.
"Marvelous!" Pestsov was saying in his mellow bass. "How are
you, Konstantin Dmitrievitch? Particularly sculpturesque and
plastic, so to say, and richly colored is that passage where you
feel Cordelia's approach, where woman, das ewig Weibliche, enters
into conflict with fate. Isn't it?"