Red Army Choir: Russian Favourites (Inc. Betta International/ Red Army Band/ Red Army Choir/ Victor Fedorov) (Naxos: 8.553154)
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Red Army Choir
Farewell of Slavianka
O field, my field
We are the red cavalry
There, far away, beyond the river
The Sacred War
There march the soldiers
In the forest by the combat-line
The sun set beyond the river
Soldiers' Chorus from The Decembrists
Song of the Volga Boatmen (Ey ukhnem)
Hey, there's the village
The Volga Burlacks' Song
Dark Eyes (Ochi chernye)
The Brave Lads of the Don
On the Road (A Soldier's Song)
The songs recorded by the Red Army Choir for this compact disc fall into fourgroups. The first consists of old soldiers' songs (Farewell of Slavianka, TheBrave Lads of the Don, soldiers' Chorus from the opera The Decembrists).
The second includes songs of the Civil War (O field, my field, We are the redcavalry and There, far away, beyond the river) and the third songs ofwhat is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War, the struggle against NaziGermany (The Sacred War, There marched the soldiers, In the forest by thecombat-line, The sun set beyond the river and On the road). Thefourth group is of popular Russian folk-songs (Song of the Volga Boatmen,Troika, The Cliff and Dark Eyes).
Farewell of Slavianka was composedin 1912 by V. Agapkin, a cavalry-manand student of trumpet and composition at the Tambov Music College. The music isbased on events in the Balkan wars of liberation from the five-hundred-year-longpower of the Ottoman Empire and was dedicated to all Slav women and varioustexts have been written to change the work into a song. The present recordinguses words by A. Fedotov. The work has enjoyed enormous popularity and was heardin Red Square on 7th November 1941, when it was played by massed bands as aprelude to the march of the troops to the front line. The same music was used byPolish patriots and in Bulgaria it has served as a standard item in militaryparades in Sofia and in the graduation ceremonies of army schools.
O field, my field is a choral episode from a symphony by L. Knipper,described by the writer as a poem about a Comsomol warrior. The first line ofthe text was written by the composer and the rest in 1924 by the poet VictorGusev. The song has become widely popular at home and abroad and was describedby the conductor Leopold Stokowsky as the best song of the twentieth century .
In 1919 the authors of The March of Budyonny, D. Pokrass and A.
d'Actile (Frenkel), lived in Rostov-on-Don, a city at the time occupied by WhiteRussian forces, working in the local show-group The One-Eyed Jimmy. InJanuary 1920 the city was taken by the First Cavalry and the song commemoratesthat event, later taken into the repertory of the Red Army. Pokrass subsequentlyjoined the Red Army and was composer to the First Cavalry .The song wonimmediate popularity and was soon known throughout the country.
1924 brought the first Comsomol song, something that had long been needed bythe young people of the organization. The words were written by a Comsomol poet,N. Kool, who found a melody for it in his favourite Russian folk-song A sunhas risen in Siberia. When Kool was serving in the army in Moscow, hiscomrades often complained of the lack of new songs, and he wrote for them There,far away, beyond the river, a song that soon won wider popularity, assoldiers returned from service to their own parts of the country, becomingitself a folk-song in its own right.
The Sacred War is a musical symbol of the Great Patriotic War. Thewords were written by V. Lebedev-Kurnachand were published in Izvestia on 24thJune 1941. The music was written by A. Alexandrov on the same day and wasimmediately sung by the Red Army Choir, who performed it on 27th June at theBelorusky railway station, as the soldiers left for the front. The song, like acall to arms, was heard all over the country. In his memoirs Major-General A.
Kronik describes one of the concerts at the front line: When we heard thesounds of The sacred War, which had become a genuine folk-song, the hearts ofofficers and men trembled within them, raw recruits and hardened soldiers, withtheir scars and moustaches, felt the same. Everyone clutched his rifle. I lookedat the soldiers and officers, my brother-warriors, and with all my heart I felttheir readiness for action. The song moved soldiers and also those left athome.
There marched the soldiers is a setting by B. Alexandrov of the 1949 poemof A. Dostal. The soldiers marched out to defend the motherland and succeeded intheir task.
In the forest by the combat-line was written in 1943 by the composer M.
Blanter and the poet H. Isakovsky. The sound of the old waltz, Dream ofAutumn, is heard in the forest near the front line. The soldiers listen andremember their beloved, the peaceful life they led before the war. Theyunderstand that only through war can they reach their aim.
The authors of The sun set beyond the mountain, M. Blanter and A.
Kovalenkov, tell of the return home of the soldiers, having defended theircountry against the enemy in a battle where some of their comrades have giventheir lives.
The Soldiers' Chorus from V. Shaporin's opera The Decembrists issung by soldiers leaving across the Danube for war with Turkey and celebratingtheir own courage.
The Song of the Volga Boatmen is an old Russian folk-song, here arrangedby B. Alexandrov. The boat menare hauling a heavy barge and sing to make theirtoil the lighter. The song, powerful and strong, suggests the character ofRussia.
Troika has a text by F .Glinka and music arranged by V. Agarkov. As hejourneys, the coachman tells his fare of his troubles, his separation from hisbeloved, who has married a rich old man that she cannot love.
The folk-song The Cliff tells us about a cliff overlooking the RiverVolga. Lofty and majestic, it recalls the hero Stenka Razin, a leader of thepoor against seventeenth century Tsarist tyranny.
Hey, there's the village is a Ukrainian folk-song, arranged by A.
Alexandrov. A brave cossack rides back home from the war and dreams about hisbeloved.
The Volga Burlack' s Song was written by A. Alexandrov and the poet OKolychev. Its story was inspired by Ilya Repin's picture The Volga Burlacks, representingthe pain and toil of the Russian people.
Dark Eyes is a gypsy romance and had gained currency by the end of thenineteenth century. It is derived from a waltz by Waldteufel and has a text byE. Grebyonka: I met you, dark eyes, and fell in love with you forever: you have ruined me, but I am happy to have controlled this greatfeeling of love.
The Brave Lads of the Don is a Russian folk-song, arranged by A.
Mikhailov. It tells of events in the war of 1812 against Napoleon, when thedaring warriors from the Don helped to defend Moscow, a symbol of the unity ofthe Russian people.