Songs from the war years

Hvorostovsky Release On Delos Features Russian Wartime Songs With Universal Appeal

Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Music Director of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra Constantine Orbelian continue their partnership with “Where Are You, My Brothers? Songs from the war years.” Seventeen beloved Russian popular songs are presented here in all-new arrangements created especially for these outstanding classical artists by Evgeny Stetsyuk. The seamless blend of styles and colors – with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the traditional Russian instrument ensemble Style of Five and the Spiritual Revival Choir supporting Mr. Hvorostovsky’s heartfelt interpretations – makes for a unique experience. The same artists presented a number of the songs heard on this recording at a gala concert in Moscow’s Kremlin Palace in April, 2003, to a sold-out audience of 6,000. Each subsequent telecast of the concert, with glimpses of its emotionally-involved live audience, was viewed by some 90 million people throughout Russia.* “Where Are You, My Brothers?” is a labor of love for both Mr. Hvorostovsky, who grew up in Siberia hearing his father sing these songs, and Maestro Orbelian, who grew up in San Francisco hearing his family and other Russian emigres sing the same songs around the piano. To describe the content of this project one must go back to World War Two, or “The Great Patriotic War,” as the Russians call it. For four long years the Russians fought a brutal German invasion to a standstill and finally turned it back. By the time it was over, millions of soldiers and ordinary people had been killed, countless families separated, vast areas of Russia left in ruins and virtually an entire generation lost. As also happened in our own country during the Second World War, a new genre of song was born, destined to encourage, unify, console and comfort a beleaguered people.

These memorable Russian war songs, many with heartbreakingly beautiful melodies and poetic texts, are poignant, mournful, defiant, angry and romantic. Even today most Russians know these songs, words and music, and can sing along – and weep along – with them. Presented by great artists in elegant arrangements such as one hears on this CD, these songs can be as moving to an international audience as serious art songs or dramatic opera arias. The composers and lyricists, although not well known in the west, are celebrities in Russia and several had illustrious careers in cinema, radio and early TV. The oldest song “On the Hills of Manchuria” actually dates back to the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. A few of the others were composed after the conclusion of World War II but most are products of the tragic period of 1941-1945. Carried by unforgettable melodies, the lyrics run the gamut from battlefield prayers, pleas for remembrance after death, defiance of the enemy, longings for peace, and pride in the homeland, to declarations of love for absent companions. Some, such as “Cranes,” in which departed soldiers’ spirits are transformed into soaring white cranes, reach poetic heights. Others, like “My Moscow,” are as brightly optimistic as “New York, New York” or “I left my heart in San Francisco.” The album was recorded with the Sony/Philips DSD process at the Mosfilm Studio in Moscow in June, 2002.

Somewhere Far Away (Gde-to Daleko (Pesnya o Dalekoy Rodine)) – Lyrics by R. Rozhdestvensky, Music by M. Tariverdiev (4:02) Dark is the Night (Tiomnaia Noch) – Lyrics by V. Agatov, Music by N. Bogoslovsky (3:34) Unexpected Waltz (Slutchaynyy Val’s) Lyrics by Ye. Dolmatovsky, Music by M. Fradkin (2:56) Where are You, My Brothers? (Gde Zhe Vy Teper’, Druz’ya-Odnopolchane) Lyrics by A. Fatianov, Music by V. Soloviev-Sedoi (3:40) On a Nameless Hill (Na Bezymiannoy Vysote) Lyrics by M. Matusovsky, Music by V. Basner (4:22) The Roads (Dorogi) Lyrics by L. Oshanin, Music by A. Novikov (4:51) Soldiers are Coming (Vot Soldaty Idut) Lyrics by M. Lvovsky, Music by K. Molchanov (2:59) Cranes (Zhuravli) Lyrics by R. Gamzatov, Music by Ya. Frenkel (4:16) In the Trenches (V Zemlianke) Lyrics by A. Surkov, Music by K. Listov (3:02) The Sacred Stone (Zavetnyy Kamen) Lyrics by A. Zharov, Music by M. Matusovsky (4:36) Katyusha (Katyusha) Lyrics by M. Isakovsky, Music by M. Blanter (2:14) Cossacks in Berlin (Kazaki v Berline) Lyrics by Ts. Solodar, Music by Dm. and D. Pokrass (2:18) My Moscow (Moia Moskva) Lyrics by M. Lisyansky and S. Agranian, Music by I. Dunayevsky (2:37) The Road to the Front (Dorozhka Frontovaia (Pesenka Frontovogo Shofiora)) Lyrics by N. Labkovsky and B. Laskin, Music by B. Mokrousov (2:17) The Hills of Manchuria (Na Sopkakh Mandzhurii) Lyrics by A. Mashistov, Music by I. Shatrov (2:56) The Lonely Accordion (Odinokaia Garmon) Lyrics by M. Isakovsky, Music by B. Mokrousov (3:08) The Last Battle (Posledniy Boi) Lyrics and Music by M. Nozhkin (3:40) All arrangements by Evgeny Stetsyuk