As Behind the Dear River, for guitar [2:13]
Traditional Russian
Shall I Come Forth to the River, folk song [3:49]
Daniil Nikitich KASHIN
A Dove Flew to the Valley, for voice & piano [2:45]
Daniil Nikitich KASHIN
You Maidens and Beauties, for voice & piano [3:01]
The Gypsies Were Travelling, song [2:32]
We Live in the Fields, song [3:02]
The Flowers Have Faded, for guitar [4:57]
The Red Sarafan, waltz arrangement for ensemble (after Vysotsky) [2:34]
Variations for guitar on Alyabyev's song "The Nightingale" [2:56]
Alexander Egorovich VARLAMOV
Krasnïy Sarafan (The Red Sarafan), for voice & piano [3:15]
Alexander ALYABYEV
The Nightingale [4:07] 1822
I Love the Pear from the Orchard for guitar [3:03]
Alexander Egorovich VARLAMOV
Don't You Wake Her at Dawn, for voice & piano [3:18]
Traditional Russian
Barynya (The Landlady) [3:06]
Remember, My Beloved, folk song [4:08]
How Did I Upset You?, folk song setting for 2 guitars (after Semion Aksionov) written in collaboration with John Schneiderman.[4:06]
Alexey Nikolayevich VERSTOVSKY
Gypsy Song ("Old husband, fearsome husband..."), for voice & piano [1:40] 1827
Oh, It Hurts / I Walked over the Flowers / Don't Walk by My Orchard, medley [5:53]
Talisman: (Etienne Abelin (classical violin); Anne Harley (soprano, co-director); Vadim Kolpakov (Russian 7 string guitar); Oleg Timofeyev (Russian 7 string guitar))
rec. 27 March 2007. DDD

Mikhail Vysotsky came of humble parentage - a serf in Imperial Russia. He rose to achieve manumission through his skill with the Russian seven string guitar. In this he was executant, renowned teacher and composer. He more than made his mark in the salons of Moscow and added to his exotic allure through spending much time, late into the night, with gypsy musicians whose ideas and flavours passed through his music. They brought ‘dangerous’ colours and flavours to the aristocracy and the respectable burgers of Moscow.

The idiom is part trembling balalaika territory - though the instruments do not include balalaikas) but much more Donizetti and Bellini. Sentimentality is not seen as a boundary - rather as a virtue. The music recalls many bel canto florid delights as well as Beethoven's romantic Scottish songs and Neapolitan romances.

This medley is essentially a mix of instrumentals and songs. It's well calculated from a genre that could pall if not sufficiently varied. The disc is built around the resonant voice of Anne Harley and the very forwardly plangent resinous sound of the seven string Russian guitar. While the fiddle puts in appearances it is the peppery tang of the guitar that predominates.

Rukin's Shall I come forth? is expertly put across by Harley. Orekhov's The Gypsies were travelling is a sort of cross between Django Reinhardt and Muscovite starry nights. Zhuchkovsky's We Live in the Fields adds a classical violin to the smiling mix with the instrumentalists injecting zingaresco exclamations to the singing.

This disc opens a doorway into Moscow's 19th century infatuation with all things gypsy: the open road, the sensuous, the liberation from the quotidian, the camp fire, the dangerous and the divine. The music enjoyed réclame in Imperial Russia's great cities and on this sampling was populist, unsubtle and full of Tzigane paprika - a slice of alluring exotica from a bygone era. One can see how Liszt, Sarasate and Brahms were attracted to this libertine flame. A Gypsy Moscow series of this music would not be unexpected.

Rob Barnett

A vivid doorway opened into Moscow's infatuation with gypsy music.