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.

Some Russian Album??? (Vladimir Vysotsky-In Concert)

Another international effort, again from Half Price Books in Sugar Land.  This was $4.  I do like Russian music as past blogs has shown but I bought this for no better reason than I thought the guy on the cover looked like me.  I have bought records for worse reasons. (Note-Not a real cigarette).

That being said, I know absolutely nothing about the singer or this record.  If there are any Russians reading this, if you could give me a little information or at least tell me the singers name, that would be appreciated. It is a live album as there is banter between songs. I believe this came out in 1987.  That and 1967 are the only dates I can make out on this.

I do really like this record.  It is simply a guy and a guitar and has a real Gogo Bordello vibe to it.  The guy has talent but I do not know what he is singing about.  Hopefully this is not a super, alt right, nationalistic record. again any information would be helpful.  As far as a sample, there were four songs I really liked so I am posting them all. For a record, I know absolutely nothing about,  I really like it.  I am going Top Rated with this one.

UPDATE: A few days after writing this post, I decided to stop being lazy and actually put some efforts into finding out who this was by.  Right now, my working theory is that this is a posthumous re-release of a 1967 piece by Russian musician and actor Vladimir Vysotsky.  Again, this is just a working theory but I am about 90% sure this is him.

Link to Wiki page

Vysotsky, born in Moscow in 1938, was a prolific artist who wrote over 600 songs and had an unique style which has been oft emulated by artists (Gogol Bordello for one).  Largely ignored by Soviet elites, his political and social commentary nonetheless made him a star in his lifetime and a Russian icon in the music world.

Alcohol, tobacco, and drug use led to an early death in 1980 at the age of 42.   He has been called one of the most singular influential musicians in 20th century Russia and this album is a great indication of that.  Anyway, this is who I think this is.  If any one can confirm or deny, that would help.  

UPDATE 2:  I am now 99.99% sure this is Vysotsky and this is  a live album of early performances. Incidentally, the Wikipedia link discusses in detail his guitar style which I have enjoyed playing with over the past few days. Anyway, I belive the song below is one of his well known ones. It was also featured in the movie White Nights.

Alexandrov Ensemble- Song and Dance of the Soviet Army

The Alexandrov Ensemble, previously known as the Red Army Ensemble/Choir, has been one of my favorites to post since I started this blog.  This album was $1.00.  It should be noted that it was originally bought at the State-owned Russian store Beriozka which sold goods for hard currency, which was illegal for most Soviet citizens to carry.  Go figure.  Anyway, the album is mostly in Russian and the record does not fit in the cover.

It was a great tragedy both for Russia and the world of music last December, when a plane carrying 64 members of the Ensemble crashed on route to Syria to entertain troops.  No auditions were held in January and by February 18, a new Ensemble was able to perform for Defender of The Fatherland Day.  With a series of concerts scheduled for Russia and Europe, this marks a new chapter for the storied Ensemble.

The chapter of this record, however, goes back a ways.  The band on this record was led by Boris Alexandrov, who took over as director after the death of his father in 1946.  Boris’s father, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov, was the first director as well as the Ensemble’s name sake.  However, under Boris, the the group’s prominence spread outside of Russia.  He was known for his strict discipline and a result, the Ensemble became a highly disciplined unit.  Under Boris’ direction, the group played the historic 1948 Berlin Peace Concert as well as a series of events with Finland’s The Leningrad Cowboys.  Boris retired in 1994 and died the same year.

I do not know much about this record as it is mostly in Russian.  It has 1976 and 1978 on it so I imagine it came out around then, although one would think it was from the 1950’s due to the artwork .  It is a good album.  I like it.  A bunch of Russian tunes.  There were none that I could recognize and they sounded less folksy than other Ensemble records I own.  Plus there was none of that bird call sound that I like.  But despite these things, it is still a good record.  If anyone knows Russian and can tell me anything about this record, plus note I have a comment section.

As I do not know any of the names of the songs, here this is as a sample.  Enjoy.

Satisfactory Record.



The Russian Balalaika Orchestra- An Evening in Old Moscow

DSCN5077 (1024x1017)This was a dollar.  I like my Russian tunes. balalaika-1969px

The balalaika, the chief instrument on this record, originated from the Russian Caucuses, with roots from the Kazakh dombra and the Mongolian topshur.   Early versions featured anywhere between two to six strings.  The first mention of the instrument came from a Kremlin guard’s log book in 1688 when two commoners were stopped from playing the instrument while drunk.  The instrument kicked around in various forms until the 1880’s when violinist Vasily Vasilievich Andreyev developed the standardized it to three strings.  From here, the instrument started its use in orchestras, with many arrangements written by Andreyev. This made the balalaika both a staple of Tsarist Russia and a supported art form of the Soviet Union. Those two things do not always mix well.DSCN5078 (1024x995)

This album came out sometime in the 1960’s I am guessing by MGM Records. I do not know anything about the Russian Balalaika Orchestra, nor Alexander Bochensky and Ika Wolters who arranged and conducted the band.  The back cover states that it was recorded in Russia. The songs are pretty good Russian folk fare but there is really nothing that differentiates this from the other Russian folk songs I have posted.  So it is not bad, but not special either.  Songs I liked include “Black Eyes”, “Kalinka”, “Cossack Patrol”, “Two Guitars”, and “Poljanka”.  It should be noted that I usually like these songs on any Russian album.Old_Moscow._Street_in_Kitay-Gorod_at_the_beginning_of_XVII_century

But I have to choose a sample, so after some time weighing pros and cons, I went with “Cossack Patrol” and “Poljanka”.A-2827560-1416212574-8001.jpeg

This album is meh.  It is a good album but not great. That is a bit unfair but I listen to a lot of Russian folk albums.  Plus no vocals.  If I heard this one first, I might have had a different opinion.

The Red Army Ensemble- Vol. 2

DSCN4531If your May Day celebration are spilling into Monday, here is an album for you. This was $3.20.  I did an earlier post on the Ensemble before so I was familiar with their work.  I also really liked the last album.  At the time, the Ensemble was still going under the moniker of the Soviet Army Chorus.red_army_choir_large

Link to earlier album post.

With this, we start another month of the blog with one of my favorite musical groups.  This album was recorded at the EMI studio in Abbey Road, London to correspond with a tour of England and a performance at the Royal Albert Hall to commemorate their 35th anniversary.20120315redstar2

This album , released in 1963, is another collection of various tunes sung by the choir.  Songs vary from instrumentals, to Ukrainian songs, to a Scottish folk song, to standard Russian fare.  The songs are done in the same patriotic style of the last album.  Overall, it is a good album.  DSCN4532

One aspect of the chorus that really is not represented on the albums is the fact that they had dancers in their ensemble.  Some of these numbers sound like they probably had elaborate folk dances to accompany them,Russians-Quebec-City-400th-Canada-333

I was stuck between various numbers to post as a sample, so again, i am going with multiple tracks.  First is the Russian folk song “A Birch Tree in a Field Did Stand”.  Next, we have about solider’s riding in thier homeland, “Song of the Plains”. Moving on, we have “Kamarinskaya” a balalaika driven instrumental .  Finally, we end with “Zaparozhtsi Dance”.  It is a soldier’s dance and was frequently used as their closing number along with dancers and flashing swords.Russians-Quebec-City-400th-Canada-318

Top Rated album for me.


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.


The Soviet Army Chorus and Band-ST

DSCN2223This was $3.00.  I like Russian music.  Very hearty and expressive chorus and a focus on the minor scales. I asked my friend Scott, who was  a  chorus singer, for his thoughts.  He said it was stirring.  We both used an expressive arm gesture to describe it.  However, I am unable to verbalize this gesture so I will go with stirring.  It is a shame, though.  That arm gesture really does it justice.

RedArmyChorusThe Soviet Army Chorus and Band, now known as the Alexandrov Ensemble (named after their first director, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov (1883-1946)), was formed during the Soviet Era. With the fall of the Soviets, the change in name seemed necessary.  Two sources link the formation of the chorus from the Frunze Red Army Central House in 1827.  From there they performed all across the Soviet Union.  In World War II, they gave 1,500 performances combined on all fronts.  After the war, they performed a historic concert in pre- Wall Berlin in 1948 followed by a tour of East Europe.  They would also perform in Berlin with Roger Waters in 1990 during a concert celebrating the destruction of the Wall. Shortly after this, they would perform with the Finnish band, Leningrad Cowboys, most notably seen in the documentary Total Balalaika Show (which turned me on to the chorus) and on the 1994 MTV video Music Awards.

An unofficial blog with a ton of music posted.

Yet Another Fan page with occasional Profanity

I believe this was recorded in 1956 but am not positive.  Since it has a song from The Decembrists (the opera, not the band), I can assume it was at least done after 1953.  Regardless, this is an excellent album and delivers Russian Chorus in a rousing manner.  The chorus is well known for its diversity in music and this album illustrates this with songs in Russian, Ukrainian, and English.  From folk songs from their homeland, from WWI British Army tunes, to 20th century Soviet Opera, they deliver their driving vocals and Russian instrumentation to each song. And yes, the Russian bird whistle is present here.

A statue of their first director

DSCN2230There were too many good points on this album not to post four samples.  First off, I am convinced the John Williams stole the Star Wars’ theme from “The Soldier’s Chorus” from the opera mentioned in the paragraph above.  Take a listen and tell me otherwise.  In terms of Russian folk songs, there is the “Volga Boat Song” and “Along Peter’s Street”, both of which are excellent.  Finally, there is the English/ Irish WWI tune “Tipperary” to round it out.


Easily a top rated album for me. Do yourself a favor and check these tunes out.