Voices from Russia

Monday, 21 January 2013

21 January 2013. Some of My Favourite Things… A “Quartet” From the Russian Classical Composer Gerogi Sviridov

Georgi Sviridov. People's Artist of the USSR

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Метель (Вальс). Snowstorm (A Waltz)

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Душа. Soul

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Любовь святая. Holy Love

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Тройка. Troika.

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The USSR was NOT a sterile wasteland… just listen… and hear the heart of Russia beating. Georgi Vasilyevich wasn’t only was a People’s Artist of the USSR, he was a navigator of the Russian soul… just let his music carry you away. It’s a shame he’s so little known in the West

BMD

 

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Monday, 1 October 2012

The Golden Age of Soviet Songs


Georg Ots (1920-75), People’s Artist of the USSR

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Я люблю тебя, жизнь! (I love you, life!)

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Moscow’s Helikon Opera opened its new season with a musical revue of Soviet songs. Its brand new production Back in the USSR, titled after a popular Beatles song, is set to become the highlight of the season. The idea of creating a revue with setting and costumes based on Soviet songs occurred to the opera company’s leadership after the theatre hosted an evening of Soviet songs and the audience enjoyed every minute of it. The resulting set designs incorporate a public phone booth of the 1960s, a park fence, and a bench provided with video installations in the form of parks, starry skies, and rain. There’s also footage from old beloved Soviet films.

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Valentina Tolkunova (1946-2010),  People’s Artist of the RSFSR

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Я не могу иначе (I can’t do anything else)

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The theatre’s artistic director, Dmitri Bertman, spoke to our VOR correspondent, “Currently, old Soviet songs are more than welcome, as people are nostalgic for them. The Soviet time, even though it was a time of the absurd, was saturated with spirituality and honesty. Soviet values appealed to the heart. That’s why we opted for such a production and judging by the reaction of the public, we were right in our choice”.

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Muslim Magomayev (1942-2008), People’s Artist of the USSR… THE BOSS

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Мелодия (A melody)

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Indeed, the performance earned long-lasting applause from the audience and the house exploded with storms of applause in the course of the play. Auditor Irina Schukina shared her opinion with VOR, “The performance was full of good humour and good songs. At first, I didn’t want to go because I thought it would be boring but I was wrong”. Student Yuliya Korotkaya commented, “Fantastic! So full of energy and positive emotions. I’ll come to see it again!”

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The contemporary group Serebro sings Журавли (The white cranes)

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Dmitri Khvorovstovsky (1962- ), People’s Artist of Russia, sings Как Молоды мы Были (How Young We Were)

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Ilya Ilyin, the producer of Back in the USSR, told VOR that the songs picked for the performance showed both positive and negative aspects of the Soviet era, saying, “Music is different. It can sound beautiful, horrible, tragic, joyful. I was born and lived in the Soviet Union, and I highly revere the songs that we sang as children and are currently singing in the theatre. The more you immerse in these songs, the more you realise what a powerful ideological machine was built in the Soviet days to ensure loyalty to the Soviet ideology. The cream of Soviet composers, including Dunayevsky, wrote for this machine. The genius of Dunayevsky coincided with the goals that these songs pursued”.

1 October 2012

Natalia Viktorova

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_10_01/The-Golden-Age-of-Soviet-songs/

Editor’s Note:

Most decent and real Russian people love Soviet songs, as they’re usually positive in tone and damned good music. The people who want to remove the Soviet period from Russian history and the Russian soul have to go and soak their heads in a bucket of ice until the good sense returns. There was much good and much bad in that period. What makes it so difficult is that so much good stood cheek-by-jowl with much evil. On the hand, yes, there was the GULag, the dictatorship, the oppressive hand of the Party apparat, but on the other hand, there was the space programme, the Great Victory, the mass literacy and health campaigns, and the highest living standards that Russia had known (shared rather more equally than at present, I might add).

There must be repentance for the evil… and a celebration of the achievements, both, in the same way, and in equal measure. Lenin must be laid to rest next to his mother in Piter, but his tomb in Moscow must be kept as a reminder of that time… both of its evil and of its grandeur. After all, Lenin wasn’t corrupt or greedy… history tells us that his needs and personal manners were modest and he didn’t enrich himself or his family (quite unlike some American politicians I could name). Today’s Russia would be the lesser without it…

Soviet song lived… Soviet song lives… Soviet song shall live!

BMD  

Thursday, 15 December 2011

15 December 2011. Videos. Some of My Favourite Things… Ots, Kristalinskaya, Lemeshyov, and Piekha… the USSR Wasn’t ALL Heroic Tractor Drivers…

Georg Ots (1920-75), People’s Artist of the USSR. Estonian operatic baritone… his voice could be heard on radio and TV all over the Soviet Union, and all his records sold out almost immediately.

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Georg Ots sings Moscow Nights

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Maya Kristalinskaya (1932-85), Honoured Artist of the RSFSR. Her signature piece was Tenderness, of which she was the first performer.

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Maya Kristalinskaya sings Tenderness

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Sergei Lemeshyov (1902-77), People’s Artist of the USSR. Russian operatic lyric tenor, his signature role was Lensky in Yevgeni Onegin. Six marriages and numerous affairs focused the attention of Lemeshyov’s fans on his personal life. Ultimately, he found his life partner in singer Vera Kudryavtseva. Their marriage lasted for over 20 years, until Lemeshyov’s death in 1977.

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Sergei Lemeshyov sings A Love Song

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Edita Piekha (1937- ), People’s Artist of the USSR. She’s a well-known public activist for humanitarian causes, and supports orphanages in Russia.

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Edita Piekha sings And Life Goes On

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One thing that you can’t say about the old Sov performers is that they put out indecent material. On that, the Party and the Church see eye-to-eye…

BMD

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A Fun Soviet Place

Evening at Lake Manzherok

Mikhail Karnaev

2002

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In 1966, a Soviet-Mongolian youth friendship festival took place on the banks of Lake Manzherok in Russia’s Altai Republic. This might not seem like much to you, but for the then-insular Soviet Union, it was a big thing, indeed. So big, in fact, that they commissioned a nifty pop tune for the occasion. The song in question was entitled, somewhat unimaginatively, Manzherok, and was sung by French-born Soviet star Edita Piekha. The catchy chorus went “Friendship is Manzherok, Faithfulness is Manzherok, the place we meet!” There was even a video made to accompany the song… a kind of Soviet surf-rock thing… featuring Piekha and her band leaping around happily in a snowy forest and playing peek-a-boo behind trees. Looking at the clip today, it’s hard to reconcile it with the common image of the pre-perestroika Soviet Union as a gravely-serious place where discussions of Marxism and Leninism were about as exciting as it got. Why, Piekha and her backing group even seem to be enjoying themselves!

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Here’s a video of Piekha’s song Manzherok

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I couldn’t dig up much info on the actual festival, but I like to imagine Soviet and Mongolian youths grooving away the nights to the track on the banks of the tranquil Lake Manzherok. This may be wistful thinking on my behalf, however. As far as I can tell, Piekha recorded the song after the festival of friendship. Piekha, who still performs today at the age of 74, was born to Polish parents in a mining village near Paris in 1937. After her father’s death, she moved to Poland with her mother and step-father before heading to Leningrad to study in 1955. It was in the Soviet Union that she found fame. Sergei, a security guard at a hotel overlooking Lake Manzherok, told me when I visited the area earlier this year, “She was quite a looker in her day. She made our little village famous, too”, breaking into a snippet of Piekha’s hit. Famous wasn’t probably the right word… back in Moscow, no one had heard of the place, and not many people I asked were familiar with the song. Which is a pity on both counts… it’s a storming tune and Manzherok really does live up to Piekha’s words of praise.

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Another slice of the Sov ‘60s with Piekha (a People’s Artist of the USSR)…

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I’d been travelling around the region for a couple of weeks by the time I got to Manzherok, and while most people had been friendly enough, the Manzherokniki were by far the most affable folk I’d come across. After Sergei had finished his rendition of Piekha’s tribute to his home village, I took the ski-lift up to the highest viewing platform on Mount Sinyukha overlooking the lake. It was off-season, and there wasn’t really anyone about apart from ski-lift operator Oleg, who greeted me with a cheery “Hello!” as I jumped off the ski-lift. His ability to determine the nationality of new arrivals to his domain high above the Siberian countryside impressed me. “No, no, that’s how I greet everyone”, he said. It was a pretty boring job up there in the summer… or relaxed, depending on how you looked at it. Oleg seemed content enough with his lot though, even if he was pleased to have a visitor. “Wanna dress up as a Mongolian warrior?” he asked me, pointing at an outfit on the floor of his cabin. “Tourists love it”. I declined. He added, “We usually have an eagle up here as well, but not today”. Oleg, it turned out, was also a volunteer fire-fighter, tackling the wildfires that devastate Siberian forests with alarming frequency. He told me, “Look over there. It’s only May and we’ve already seen a blaze”. I followed Oleg’s finger and made out a black stain… the charred remains of trees… set against the lush green. He said, “That was just a few weeks ago, and they’ll be more. You can bet on it. There’s a team of us, and we try to get to the fires before they can spread too much, but it’s hard work. In the Soviet era, things were better organised. They’d send out whole factories to tackle blazes. There’s none of that, of course, now. I just can’t stand by and see our countryside destroyed, and if the authorities can’t sort it out…”

I said goodbye to Oleg and set off back down the mountain. When I reached the bottom, it was already getting dark. I looked around for a taxi but there was no one around. I asked a local where I could find someone to drive me back to my accommodation. “I’ll take you, it’s no trouble, he said, smiling”. That kind of thing is par for course in friendly Manzherok. Visit, if you can. Say Marc sent you.

11 August 2011

Marс Bennetts

Deeper than Oil

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/columnists/20110822/166047175.html

Editor’s Note:

The USSR wasn’t only soldiers goose-stepping on Red Square. Ordinary people didn’t have it easy, but it wasn’t as bad as in the Laissez Faire tsarist days, either. People lived and loved, argued and made up, and agonised over and fought with their kids… like people everywhere. Today, Russians want the USSR back in one form or another… and you should reflect on why they want that. They’ve had a healthy dose of Western “democracy” and “capitalism”, and they’ve found both to be empty and specious lies (worse than the worst of communism ever was).

They want that changed… “They lied to us about communism, but they told us the truth about capitalism”. Today, we see the USA sunk in greed, selfishness, “consumerism”, and materialism. Ponder this… most communists are believers… most American “conservatives” call themselves “Christians”. One of these things is NOT like the other! One is Christ-like… the other is a diabolic imposture. Which one do YOU want? Do you want “Christ the First Communist” or “Christ the Leader of the Affluent Elect?” It IS up to you…

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A note to Orthodox people: Paffhausen, Lyonyo, Jillions, Alfeyev, Potapov, Webster, and Dreher all support the extreme rightwing. His Holiness and his faction support Social Justice and most priests cooperate with the communists. You can have one or the other. None dare call it TREASON. Choose well… your eternal destiny DOES depend on it.

BMD

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