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Balalaika Favourites! - Two balalaika Orchestras in Russian Folk Tunes
1. Fantasy on Two Folksongs (Nikolay Budaschkin) [7:01]
2. At Sunrise (Trad. arr. Gorodovskaya ) [4:22]
3. The Linden Tree (Pavel Kulikov) [4:17]
4. Kamarinskaya (Nikolay Osipov) [2:42]
5. Fantasy on Volga Melodies (Mikhailov-Shalayev) [4:45]
6. In the Moonlight (Vasily Andreyev) [3:04]
7. Midnight in Moscow (Vasily Soloviev-Sedoy) [2:28]
8. Under the Apple Tree (Vasily Andreyev) [2:10]
9. Snow Maiden, Op. 12 (Tchaikovsky) – Dance of the Buffoons [4:29]
10. The Living Room (Yuri N. Shishakov) [1:25]
11. Evening Bells (Trad/Koslov/Alyabyev) [4:15]
12. My Dear Old Friend, Please Visit Me (Trad. arr Poponov) [2:24]
13. Waltz of the Faun (Vasily Andreyev) [4:19]
14. Tale of Tsar Sultan: Suite, Op. 57 (Rimsky-Korsakov) – Flight of the Bumblebee [1:11]
rec. June 1962, Moscow, for Mercury Living Presence
The Russian Balalaika Orchestra
15. Stepdastep /Steppe all around [4:03]
16. Down Petershaya Street [3:11]
17. Blue Duckling [3:20]
18. Play My Whistle [3:12]
19. Wind Is Blowing [3:58]
20. Semyonovna [3:23]
21. I Was Walking in the Forest [2:00]
22. Kalinka 3:38
Traditional, arranged by Vyacheslav Grokhovsky,
Rudolf Belov (domra); Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra/Vitaly Gnutov
Russian Balalaika Orchestra/V. Grokhovsky
rec. ADD/Stereo 1962/7 Time:
ALTO TAKE 2 ALN 1936 [75:53]

Here, in a celebration of Russian whimsy, we have a large swathe of Russian Balalaika popular favourites taken from 1962 and 1967 sources. The music is played with enormous gusto and no little sentimentality. There is never a whiff of an apologetic sound. On the contrary this giant music-making, very much in your face – a sort of super From Russia With Love. I suggest that the Mercury LP from which the first 14 tracks on this CD derive played its part in influencing the 1963 Barry score. The orchestra in both cases is filled out with wind and brass instruments and the ubiquitous domra, gusli, bayan (Russian accordion) and tambourine.
The trill and the tremble are central to this music, as is an irresistible immersion in melancholy. The latter can be found in Evening Bells. Acceleration dances of the type found in Semyonova, Dance of the Buffoons, Kamarinskaya – the same dance taken by Glinka – and Fantasia on Volga Melodies will leave you breathless and red-cheeked. What did they do to the bayan player who rushes his socks off in the Fantasia? Snowy romance is radiant in Midnight in Moscow. The uproariously remarkable Flight of the Bumble-Bee establishes a further link with the classical world. Vyacheslav Grokhovsky’s name we know from his orchestral music on Campion. He proves just as imaginative in these commercial arrangements: fragile, crystalline, icicle cold, whimsically imaginative and foot-tapping as in the classic Kalinka.
James Murray documents this collection like a trooper giving an entrée to a repertoire that is even now rather overlooked.
A dazzling display of saturated colour and accelerated toe-tapping pulse quickeners.
Rob Barnett
A dazzling display of saturated colour and accelerated toe-tapping pulse quickeners.

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