Balakirev and Russian Folksong

Mily Balakirev (1837–1910) – the leader of the group of Russian composers known as 'the Mighty Handful’ – was influenced by folksong from the very start of his career. His expansive Grand Fantasia on Russian Folksongs for piano and orchestra is one of his very first compositions, written when he was seventeen. And the 30 Folksongs of the Russian People for piano duet, folksong-arrangements from the other end of his career, show his deep understanding of the sources, which he endows with dignity and colour. Each of his arrangements is preceded on this CD by the original folksong, illuminating Balakirev’s perceptive approach to this fascinating material.

Joseph Banowetz, piano
Russian Philharmonic of Moscow, orchestra
Konstantin Krimets, conductor
Olga Kalugina, soprano
Svetlana Nikolaeva, mezzo soprano
Pavel Kolgatin, tenor
Joseph Banowetz and Alton Chung Ming Chan, piano duet

Listen To This Recording:

  1. Grande Fantaisie sur airs nationals Russes pour Le Pianoforforté avec accompagnement d’Orchestre, Op. 4
  2. 30 Songs of the Russian People – dukhovnaya (spritual songs associated with particular Orthodox feastdays)

  3. No. 1 (folksong): ‘Dormition of the Mother of God’
  4. No. 1 (piano duet): ‘Dormition of the Mother of God’
  5. No. 2 (folksong): ‘Egoriy the Brave’
  6. No. 2 (piano duet): ‘Egoriy the Brave’
  7. No. 3 (folksong): ‘Lazar’
  8. No. 3 (piano duet): ‘Lazar’
  9. No. 4 (folksong): ‘The Last Judgement’
  10. No. 4 (piano duet): ‘The Last Judgement’
  11. No. 5 (folksong): ‘The Book of the Dove’
  12. No. 5 (piano duet): ‘The Book of the Dove’
  13. 30 Songs of the Russian People – bylina (epic songs about historical characters)

  14. No. 6 (folksong): ‘The King’s Sons from Kraków’
  15. No. 6 (piano duet): ‘The King’s Sons from Kraków’
  16. No. 7 (folksong): ‘Kostruk’
  17. No. 7 (piano duet): ‘Kostruk’
  18. No. 8 (folksong): ‘Nikita Romanovich’
  19. No. 8 (piano duet): ‘Nikita Romanovich’
  20. No. 9 (folksong): ‘Grisha Otrepyev’
  21. No. 9 (piano duet): ‘Grisha Otrepyev’
  22. No. 10 (folksong): ‘Vasiliy Okulyevic’
  23. No. 10 (piano duet): ‘Vasiliy Okulyevic’
  24. No. 11 (folksong): ‘The Razvoinik Brothers and their Sister’
  25. No. 11 (piano duet): ‘The Razvoinik Brothers and their Sister’
  26. No. 12 (folksong): ‘Birds and Animals’
  27. No. 12 (piano duet): ‘Birds and Animals’
  28. 30 Songs of the Russian People – wedding songs

  29. No. 13 (folksong): ‘They Said: Fedot-Ot doesn’t drink beer…’
  30. No. 13 (piano duet): ‘They said: Fedot-ot doesn’t drink beer…’
  31. No. 14 (folksong): ‘There were no winds…’
  32. No. 14 (piano duet): ‘There were no winds…’
  33. No. 15 (folksong): ‘Are you, my river, little river…’
  34. No. 15 (piano duet): ‘Are you, my river, little river…’
  35. No. 16 (folksong): ‘Oh, drinking berry…’
  36. No. 16 (piano duet): ‘Oh, drinking berry…’
  37. No. 17 (folksong): ‘Many, many by a damp oak tree…’
  38. No. 17 (piano duet): ‘Many, many by a damp oak tree…’
  39. No. 18 (folksong): ‘Mummy wasn’t hoping’
  40. No. 18 (piano duet): ‘Mummy wasn’t hoping’
  41. No. 19 (folksong): ‘My girlfriends, dear girlfriends…’
  42. No. 19 (piano duet): ‘My girlfriends, dear girlfriends…’
  43. No. 20 (folksong): ‘Oh, you geese, you geese…’
  44. No. 20 (piano duet): ‘Oh you geese, you geese…’
  45. No. 21 (folksong): ‘Grape-harvest’
  46. No. 21 (piano duet): ‘Grape-harvest’
  47. No. 22 (folksong): ‘There is a tree on a hill’
  48. No. 22 (piano duet): ‘There is a tree on a hill’
  49. 30 Songs of the Russian People – khorovodnaya (round-dance songs)

  50. No. 23 (folksong): ‘I went into the garden’
  51. No. 23 (piano duet): ‘I went into the garden’
  52. No. 24 (folksong): ‘Our wide street’
  53. No. 24 (piano duet): ‘Our wide street’
  54. No. 25 (folksong): ‘Utushnaya’
  55. No. 25 (piano duet): ‘Utushnaya’
  56. 30 Songs of the Russian People – protyazhnaya

  57. No. 26 (folksong): ‘Rowanberry and Raspberry’
  58. No. 26 (piano duet): ‘Rowanberry and Raspberry’
  59. No. 27 (folksong): ‘What a heart’
  60. No. 27 (piano duet): ‘What a heart’
  61. No. 28 (folksong): ‘It’s enough for you, my dear, to walk in the field’
  62. No. 28 (piano duet): ‘It’s enough for you, my dear, to walk in the field’
  63. No. 29 (folksong): ‘Oh you, winter’
  64. No. 29 (piano duet): ‘Oh you, winter’
  65. No. 30 (folksong): ‘She became, she became a colonel’s wife’
  • No. 30 (piano duet): ‘She became, she became a colonel’s wife’
  • 5 reviews for Balakirev and Russian Folksong

    1. :

      ‘The results are gripping. The folksongs were recorded in Moscow by three singers who have them in their blood; Balakirev’s arrangements were recorded by the piano duet partners in America. In every case Balakirev’s treatment enhances rather than “translates” the songs, and not the least of the interest is to listen to the original again after hearing Balakirev. Of course it would have been good to have all the words printed in the booklet, but the detailed individual commentaries (in three languages) by Igor Prokhorov and Nicholas Walker provide a more than adequate guide to these haunting songs and their astonishing originality.’

      —John Warrack, Gramophone

    2. :

      “Toccata Classics’ Balakirev and Russian Folksong offers one of the most direct perspectives offered so far on Balakirev’s work as an avatar of traditionally tinged Russian Western Art Music.” —Uncle Dave Lewis

    3. :

      ‘The trilingual booklet does not contain song texts, but a summary of each song by Igor Prokhorov and Nicholas Walker, the latter also providing the erudite introductory notes. Both concept and execution of this album are to be applauded. Those who wish to drink at the well of Slavic music should add it to their collection.’

      —Paul Sarcich, Music & Vision

    4. :

      ‘Russian admiration for the poetry of Robert Burns dates not, as might be supposed, from the nineteenth century but from the Communist era, when Burns was regarded as a kind of people’s poet. … The ideological complexities involved in this music shouldn’t obscure the fact that it’s for the most part a lot of fun, and the performances by Ukrainian-British bass-baritone Vassily Savenko are enthusiastic and confident. He is ably accompanied by Aleksandr Blok, a relative of the poet of the same name. Another intriguing hour from the consistently original Toccata Classics label.’

      —James Manheim, AllMusic

    5. :

      ‘This disc includes some lovely pure singing and world music folk fans need to hear this as well as Balakirev and Russian music enthusiasts. Congratulations to Martin Anderson and his collaborators in Russia for showing us that there are singers in Russia who can sustain a note without undue vibrato.

      Nicholas Walker provides the booklet notes. As is customary with Toccata these are full and detailed. […]

      In summary: Early bel canto Balakirev and folk music sung and played freshly with a adroitly earthy resonance.’

      —Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

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