Omsk Russian Folk Choir- ST

As you can probably tell , I am winding down the month.  You can tell obviously by date, but but also the quality of posts.  Really running and gunning to get these done. Maybe you can tell be the lack of consistency this weeks posts have had.  Well no use blabbing about it.  Let’s get this one out of the way. This was $2.  If you read these posts, you should know of my love of Russian Music.

The Omsk Russian Folk Choir, according to the back sleeve, was founded in 1953 by Elena Kalugina.  By the time 1963 rolled around the Choir was directed by G. Pantukov.  The ensemble sings both traditional folk songs as well as songs written by local Siberian musicians.  The back cover also states that many members are former amateur singers which I do not know how to process.  The back cover , by the way, is in Russian,, English, and French.

Let’s learn about Omsk, the Sister City to Millwaukee


Anyway, here is this effort, which is pretty good.  It is from the at the time State run Melody label.  from what year, I do not know. Sometime after 1964 I imagine.  It is hard to detect with any accuracy when it comes to records from the USSR or China, especially when you do not want to put too much more effort into it. Anyway good stuff. Some instrumentals if I remember right.  Some female driven chorus numbers, some male numbers, and some mix of the two.

For samples, I went with “The Cossack Song” and “Mantani”.  At least that is what I think they are.

Good record.  Satisfactory.

Sania Poustylnicof and Ensemble- Russian Folk Songs

DSCN3688This was 80 cents.  You should know by know that I likes my Russian Music.  This is a Somerset Record (who would later become Alshire Records).  They are most famous for their 101 Strings records.  But despite this, I like Russian music enough to take a chance on this.Russian_Folk_Dance_BarynyaI like the liner notes on this album because it looks like I could of wrote them.  The Ensemble are from Russia and Poustylnicof has lived there most of his life.  “Why, when and how he left his homeland, we did not ask…….Our prime concern after hearing Mr Poustylnicof, was not delving into his personal history, but to record the outstanding artistry of his guitar and group.” For the record, this is the last time I am typing Poustylnicof, who is a master of Mid Century Russian balalaika.5jAC128y798

This was recorded in the Republic of Germany in 1958.  Unlike other Sommerset/ Alshire Records, this is real good.  They do a good job with the material, presenting it in a way that is different from other versions but not to far from the original intent. Also, there are some vocals on this album as well, of both the male and female variety.DSCN3689

I could not pick out just one sample, so here is a smorgasbord of Russian music.  Enjoy. There are some extra tracks on some of the Rated Record for me. Probably the only Somerset/Alshire record to get this distinction.


Some Russian Folk Song Album



This record was originally $2 but the guy at Half-Priced Books gave it to me at a dollar as there was no way of really knowing what it was. He asked me if I knew. I said no but at two dollars, I was willing to roll the dice. We both agreed that it was probably Russian Folk Music.

Which it was. And quite descent folk music at that. I know nothing about this record (other than it was released in 1976) or who recorded it as everything on it is in Cyrillic. It does contain a good selection of folk tunes including Katrusha and Kalinka. There are other songs which I have heard before but do not know the names. But they are quite standard Russian folk songs.DSCN0998

This album is in great shape and still has the sleeve. Only 30% of the American albums I buy can claim this.

I posted an instrumental version of Kalinka before but I am doing it again, as it is the most famous Russian folk song and the vocals are very impressive. To make up for this double dipping, I am posting another example as well. Both feature bird whistles, which I assume is a prominent feature of Russian folk Music.

I will give this my Top Rating as it greatly delivers to me both great Russian folk music, an economic value, and a story about its purchase.

Sasha Polinoff- The Fastest Balalaika in the West

IMG_4908This album was $4.00. I spent big on it. I bought it for the song Kalinka which is a Russian Folk Standard. Chances are you have heard it before.

From what I was able to piece together, Sasha was born in 1906 in Manchuria. He came to the US with his Aunt at a very early age, I am guessing during the oppression of the Tsar and before the oppression of communism. He picked up the Balalaika around 13, and shortly joined a troupe of musicians. From there, he started his path as a working musician. He died in 1999. It would appear that he gained a lot of fame in certain circles but not a lot of monetary reward. This album is from 1962. I think it is his second album but I imagine he did a hell of a lot of performing around the world before this point.

I like this album. The Balalaika is such as distinctive instrument it sounds so beautiful when played. It drives the songs on both sides. I am sure others will classify it differently, but to me, it is a cross between a banjo and a mandolin. The title is a bit deceptive as you would think that all the songs would be barn burners. In reality, the songs build up in both texture and pace and there is a good mix between fast and slow. If you like Russian instruments and / or Russian folk music, this delivers on both. One song has a brief chorus, otherwise, no vocals.

IMG_4909I was torn between the opening song Karainskaya, Ukrainskoye Potpourri, Yamschik, and To Nie Vieter, but in the end, I chose Kalinka as this is the reason I bought the record.

I would say this record is satisfactory for me and note that it is on the high end of what I pay for records. That said, it has surpassed its value and I will probably play it more than other satisfactory records.