The Pokrovsky Ensemble performing Stravinsky's Les Noces, which The Guardian once dubbed "a fascinating exercise in historical musicology." “Les noces”(The Wedding) by Stravinsky, in many things, was the turning-point of the Ensemble. By the way Pokrovsky had avoided the image of an only folklore group style and much more like an ethnographical. At the beginning of May in 1994 at the very days of Pokrovsky's fiftieth anniversary, Igor Stravinsky's “Les noces” (The Wedding) had its premiere. Dmitri Pokrovsky's Ensemble performance made debut at the hall of Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. It was in the famous Majestic theater of Peter Brook's related with such names as George Balanchine, John Cage, Steve Reich. The event happened during Grand International Festival in I. Stravinsky's honor. There were many a famous musical group and eminent scientists specializing in Stravinsky. Pokrovsky's Ensemble showed not only Les noces (The Wedding) but its sources of folklore also. The unusual vocal interpretation and the scientific report became a real sensation in music world. Everywhere the Les noces (The Wedding) would be performed there raised many a discussion of it among people of creativity and in academician circles. That built up in well-known cities and halls. The summer home of Boston Symphony Orchestra, Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, a temple of academic music, that was established by Serge Alexandrovich Koussivitzky. The Center is some kind of Mecca for musicians of all the world, just like Paris for artists where an artist gets his glory or loses everything. And that was just where the show of Les noces (The Wedding) and traditional wedding ceremonies got acknowledgement as the best performance of the year. Then Sydney Opera, Melbourne, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and other cities and towns of the USA. For their avant-garde dance Pokrovsky's Ensemble was put in nomination at one of the US music festivals. Let us remind that composer Stravinsky had named his composition "Russian choreographic scenes with music and songs from folk texts".
Even this incomplete list of the halls did emphasize the level and significance of the event. Unhappily that was not almost noticed in Russia. Previous to the premiere, the record was made and released by Electra Nonesuch. The disk had kept the top rating in critics' opinion for two years. And before recording of the disk leading by Dmitri Pokrovsky, his Ensemble endeavored to do research work in expeditions and archives.
Les noces (The Wedding) by Stravinsky, in many things, was the turning-point of the Ensemble. By the way Pokrovsky had avoided the image of an only folklore group style and much more like an ethnographical. The Ensemble had been performing modern music, working together with many modern composers and at the same time having classical compositions in its repertoire. No need to say about many an experiment with jazz and avant-garde groups. Most critics and spectators considered all the attempts like the usual eccentricity of Pokrovsky's. Really though those were first steps, try-outs in absolutely new development hiding in itself great possibilities. Les noces (The Wedding) was the first author's composition performed without breaking composer's conception and at the same time turned it absolutely into something unexpected indeed. It had been impossible to guess in advance. The new step made by Pokrovski was found out as a new language and a new way. The long built wall separating modern art from its roots, when avant-gardism was considered denying, even destroying all the art being in existence till now did crack. But Dmitri Pokrovsky had shown with the example of his Les noces (The Wedding) that it was not destruction but percolate through the century into the art of the 19th century by the laws of earlier creative work. Pokrovsky's Les noces (The Wedding) confirmed Stravinsky's ascent into canons deeper and more harmonious than those used just before by existing culture. Convincing proof that the very modern composition was built exactly in accordance with the folklore laws happened to be a real outburst.
The position of theoretical analyzing and stage performing Les noces (The Wedding) were based on the fact of using structural and constructive Stravinsky's methods which brilliant Stravinsky gained from folklore and his intelligent study of the matter. Dmitri Pokrovsky and his artists carefully studied the composition as well as the folk traditions of music from which the idea came into being. The expeditions notes made by the Ensemble, the archival and other research work showed that Stravinsky had followed rhythmical and mode regularity of authentic wedding motives-formulae of the Russian South-West precisely. Most part of the songs texts used by the composer in his thing bore out that preciseness. So that discovered his deep knowledge of the folklore and ethnographical subject. This knowledge served him so much when he created his distinctive and by no means ethnographical (that was always refused by the composer-mystifyer) Les noces (The Wedding). There were no trace of folklore tunes from collections known to him, and that let us say about a perfectly new way of using results of field explorations in folklore and ethnography. The way was used in Les noces (The Wedding) logically by Stravinsky at first time. These facts made Les noces (The Wedding) different from other outstanding compositions of the Russian period. All of these happened to be the real revolutionary discovery of Les noces (The Wedding) made by D. Pokrovsky. He dedicated his dissertation to that theme which he had worked at in the last days of his life and couldn't complete.
The Pokrovsky's Ensemble performing Les noces (The Wedding) by Igor Stravinsky happened to be a big hit both with amateurs having knowledge of Stravinsky oeuvre and with large public equally. The confluence of unbelievable magic of extraordinary music and live voices' power plus uncommon and simple staging are the composite of success. All the scenery things do score our wooden benches, a (table) podium and four mechanic pianos (without lids). You can see eighteen artists singing and moving at the same time and six or eight musicians percussionists being involved to participate instead of usual chorus, ballet, four soloists. Many days traditional wedding ceremonial shown for 24 minutes leave an unforgettable impression. Mostly owing to the theatrical musical creation was designed by Stravinsky.
Pokrovsky's Ensemble had been working at the production for five years. Quite large number of times the artists went on expeditions to the places where Stravinsky got original folk texts for his libretti from and where he had been himself. Two nuptial ceremonies of the North and South-West of Russia were the results of the expedition work. The Ensemble showed them in the first part of the concert before Les noces (The Wedding) in confirmation of the folk roots of that avant-garde performance.
Igor Stravinsky Les Noces as performed by the Dmitry Pokrovsky Ensemble: "I borrowed nothing from folk pieces, with the exception of the the theme of one factory song in the last tableau, which I repeat several times on different texts. All the other themes, motives and melodies are of my own composition... The recreation of a country wedding ritual... which in any case, I never had the chance to see or listen to... absolutely didn’t enter my mind\Igor Stravinsky, 1935\ Whether Stravinsky was blatantly lying in the comment above or simple suffering from a “conveniet memoy lapse” to quote the noted musicologist Richard Taruskin, will remain unclear. What Dmitri Pokrovsky’s work has made quite clear, however, is the very direct use by by Stravinsky of numerous melodies, texts and tradition from southern and western Russia. Pokrovsky has spent more than two decades studying, collecting, transcribing and performing Russian folk music, and has also concentrated on the music of Stravinsky. It was the intersection of these two interests which led Pokrovsky into serious research on the folk influences on some of Stravinsky’s greatest works including Les Noces. Les Noces was originally titled “Svadebka- Russian Choreographic scenes with singing and instrumental music”. In its four tableaus it lengthy Russian village wedding ritual.
To set the stage for Les Noces Pokrovsky first immerses the audience in a collage of village wedding music and rituals from southern and western Russia. These folk pieces make a startling reappearance in Les Noces. Throgh the ensemble’s performance of the work, Pokrovsky illiustrates not only the influence of these folk traditions, but puts the entire work into authentic Russia context. The ensemble sings the four tableaus of Les Noces in tradional Russian folk style. Their beautiful costumes and thrilling choreography create a “visually stunning performance... as if it were a cross between a village marriage and a contemporary dance-theater piece –at times dancing expressively, at times imitating the (often cruel) ancient rituals of the primitive ceremony. The effect was both emotionally compelling and intellectually disturbing.”(New York Newsday) Another interesting aspect of this work is the instrumentation. One of Stravinsky’s original scoring was for two cimbaloms, harmonium, percussion and pianola or mechanical piano. While Stravinsky was pleased with this combination, the scrolls of the pianola were too short to allow for proper synchronization, and he abandoned this version. His final version of the score was for solo vocalists, chorus, four pianos and percussion. An effective performance of Les Noces demands intense rhythmic accuracy and minimal lyricism. With the help of Yamaha disklaviers (computer driven player pianos ) Pokrovsky’s performance is a creative solution to Stravinsky’s dilemma, resulting in the composer’s ideal sound – “perfectly homogeneous, perfectly impersonal and perfectly mechanical”.
All those who experience this production are undeniably moved. It was the highlight of the recent “Russian Stravinsky Festival” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a “musically accomplished electric performance.” (New YorkMagazine)
In 2006 this project was restored by Pokrovsky Ensemble as a concert version. “Les Noces” was repeatedly performed by Pokrovsky Ensemble together with English conductor Thomas Ades and musicians of the Birmingham symphonic orchestra and the Maryinsky Theater, pianists Peter Donohoe, sisters Labeque in London (Barbican), Birmingham (Symphony-hall), Cologne(Philharmonic), St.-Petersburg (the New scene of the Maryinsky Theater,)Stokholm (Royal Philharmonic), Los Angeles(Walt Disney Hall); musicians of San-Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony conducting by Michael Tilson Thomas; together with chorus New Siberian Singers of the Novosibirsk philharmonic society and conductor Teodor Kurentzis; orchestra Avanti! (Helsinki) with conductor Dmitry Slobodenjuk; musicians of Palermo's Teatro Massimo with Daniel Kawka as conductor; with Marc-Andre Hamelin and musicians of Seatle Symphony orchestra, Ludovic Morlot as conductor.
Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble’s partnership with Paul Winter Consort
EARTHBEAT – the first album of original music created by Americans and Russians together.
“I first went to the Soviet Union to seek out its wilderness beauty and to listen for the voices of the Russian earth.. I traveled as far as Lake Baikal in Siberia, where I found such beauty that it has lured me back to the Soviet Union many times. But I first found the earth-voices where I least expected-right the heart of Moscow, in the music of Dmitri Pokrovsky Singers.
The Consort and I met them during a tour of the Soviet Union in September 1986, when they performed with us in a concert at Moscow University. Our two ensembles felt an immediate kinship, and, through interprets, we talked enthusiastically about creating new music together for a possible album and a future tour. I sough permission from Melodiya, the Soviet state record company, who agreed to a co-production. In March 1987 we returned to Moscow to begin writing and recording.
Immersing ourselves in their music, we improvised new melodies in counterpoint and added various percussion instruments in accompaniment. Gradually, new layers of miusic began to grow, integrating out Western harmonies and Afro-Brazilian rhythms with their ancient circle songs and chants.
The experience of making music with these new Russian friends has been one of the most nourishing of our musical lives.”
Dmitry Pokrovsky Ensemble and Paul Winter Consort have since toured through the USA, as well as in Japan, Spain, Israel. Pokrovsky Ensemble have been featured in many of the Winter Solstice celebrations in New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. In 2008 two Ensembles first time since 1986 has toured in Russia
Words about Earthbeat
“ For centuries, trained composers have tried rearranging folk. In this ground-breaking album, Paul Winter does something that may set a new path – of juxtaposing and superimposing differeng idioms.It may raise some eyebrows. I think it’s great”
“Classical music artists have recorded in Russiawith Russian colleagues – Leopold Stokowsky, Van Cliburn, and Byron Janis come immediately to mind. But this collaboration by the Paul Winter Consort and the Dmitry Pokrovsky Singers is a unique “first” in the non-classical music world. May it be the first of many, heralding a true openness between our two people”
“Because the jazz musician creates and interprets music spontaneously as he hears it in his own mind, it is natural that his improvisational compositions should reflect every kind of music to which he has been exposed. .I would not be surprised to hear a jazz musician, who has been exposed to Chinese music, use devices from the Oriental system in his improvised choruses”
When I wrote that statement in 1950 in an article printed in DOWN BEAT Magazine, I had no way of knowing, that with modern recording technology and a few adventurous global musicians the emergence of a world music would be heard so soon and with such dramatic impact. Paul Winter’s EARTHBEAT is the latest in his series of albums that have tuned us in to the sounds of nature and to the music of cultures other than our own. In the EARTHBBEAT album Paul Winter wisely retains the raw sounds of the Dmitri Pokrovsky Singers, so that we can share the thrill of his discovery. I will never forget the impact of Paul showing up in my dressing room in Moscow with some of the Singers . The room suddenly reverberated with some of the wildest , elemental, spine-tingling sounds I has ever heard come out of a human throat. Paul ‘s fusion of this 1,000 year old Russian ethnic choral tradition with the personal style of his group is a forceful statement of his belief in the oneness of our earth song.”
The creative commonwealth of the Pokrovsky Ensemble and Choir of State Tretyakov Gallery conducting by Alexey Puzakov has begun with a mansion of the State Tretyakov gallery in 2007г. At festival "Moscow autumn" A.Mikita's compositions "Itself have been shown Is uniform Immortal" and "My God, Pardon", written specially for these two collectives. Experimental connection of so different vocal elements has appeared so interesting and unexpected that there was obvious a necessity of its continuation and development for other musical genres and forms. Now it already 2 new joint projects - "Fearful vengeance" under N.Gogol's story and "Our Lady's Mystery" on initial medieval texts, verses of Russian poets and national spiritual verses. "Fearful vengeance" On a plan the project represents an original is musical-scenic embodiment of outstanding product of N.V.Gogol. At the heart of performance the libretto belonging to a feather of the writer of 2nd half of a XIX-th century of P.A.Viskovaty, specially written for N.A.Rimsky-Korsakov lies. Unfortunately, this scenario and has not been used by the composer. Uniqueness of product consists in a combination of several kinds musical исполнительства: choral and tool, academic and folklore, and also in synthesis, interosculation and collision of various genre and stylistic layers and directions of national musical culture from original national songs in their authentic sounding to church everyday tunes.
Such art decision organically corresponds with substantial and figurative numbers to move, with various historical and fantastic plans. At the same time, performance goes back to stylistics of Russian folk theatre and to so-called to "a school drama":Оh this Gogol. Who and when learns, laughs it or cries, longs or scoffs? And over whom: Over the world, over itself, over all of us? It like always here: peeps derisively over our fussy short steps, and like and there is no it: And what for to us Gogol? We Will do without this mocker! Grandmother's fairy tales, unthruth!. Gogol cannot be played, embodied, studied, reproduced! It learns us not to become isolated within the limits of the visible habitual: the world is changeable, and is perceived it we in inconstancy of images and forms, today, and ежечастно and every minute. To catch an instant, to catch sense, and there and then to escape from it in attempt to catch up with escaping new sounding. We will simply play, sing, talk, recollect, rehearse, make comments, recollecting unremembering and comprehending unanderstendible. Words and melodies develop in the closed forms: we will dress a song and we become on a spiral rises to those inaccessible semantic heights behind which only Divine, there, where there arrives Gogol. "(A.Viskov)
«Our Lady's the Mystery»
the Mystery represents (A.Viskov) forms of the ancient Medieval Liturgical dramas which revival in the conditions of Russian culture follows the ancient tradition put still in 16 century and widely developed in Russian court and school life, since the middle of 17 centuries. It is attempt of a spiritual is musical-scenic embodiment of the major events of the New testament devoted to a terrestrial life by Maria of the Virgin and covering history of a life her parents: just Ioakim and Anna, Maria's Birth, descend of Archangel Gabriel and the Lady day, Jesus Birth. At the heart of action medieval mysteries «the Lady day Mystery», and «the Mystery about Jesus Birth», extremely extended in the Middle Ages in countries of Western Europe and had development and in the further history of a sacred music lie: from Bach and Handel, to Orf and Webber. As a matter of fact, this first embodiment of this direction on Russian soil. In the scenario poems of Russian poets - are used A.Block, D.Venevitinov, And. Lialichkin, V.Trediakovsky, I.Annensky. A.Poseljanin's historical works, and also national spiritual verses and Synod transfer of the New testament. At the same time, in the musical relation product ascends as Medieval and Renaissance, and modern West European stylistics.
One can hardly find in Russia a great composer, who never turned to the traditional musical culture - Balakirev, Rimsky-Korsakov, Liadov, Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich – all of them collect, process, varied, one way or another, used in its creative different folk songs.
Georgy Sviridov - continued the line of Russian classics, enriching it with new developments of XXcentury, the national character of statements linking the global musical experience. His goal was, "sing the praises of Russia, where the Lord gave, and told me to live, enjoy and suffer."
Sviridov, a native of Kursk province absorbed folklore since childhood and made it the basis of their creativity. Cantata "Kursky Songs" and the essay "Three old songs of Kursk Province" G. Sviridov wrote in 1964, based on songs from the published collection of A. Rudneva "Folk Songs of the Kursk region." (For the creation of this product in 1968 Georgy Sviridov was awarded the State Prize of the USSR).
It is known that Sviridov wrote his "Kursky Songs" when arguing with Stravinsky, whose approach to folklore rejected. And even the orchestration of one of the author's edition - two pianos and percussion - were born from an analogy with "Les Noces" by Stravinsky ("Russian choreographic scenes with singing and music") - a brilliant work for chorus and soloists with 4 piano and drums in folk texts.
Song cycle "Kursky Songs", was a kind of apex of G Sviridov’s creativity, and became one of the masterpieces of Soviet and Russian music. The "Kursky songs" do not show through the features of a particular era. However, in music of this work reflected the life of Russian people, with all its features. Sensitivity to the folk-song material allowed Sviridov establish and singular harmonic structure of musical accompaniment, which is its capacity, the expressiveness is equivalent to the basic melodic line, and facilitates the identification of meaning, the content of the whole.
All seven songs of this cantata united by a common musical and poetic idea. For individual sketches you can see the history of the peasant girl. She loves going out with sweet, marries, becomes a mother, suffering from infidelity husband, grieving in the "golden cage". This single line of drama ends with colorful folk scene, is still optimistic by nature. Life goes on, consuming grief, and the songs continue to rattle ... In general, the cantata presents itself something entirely new in Russian music: not a suite, not the "crown" of folk treatments, and emerged on the basis of authentic folk songs independently on a plan of work, infused with a great idea and love for his homeland. The essay "Three old songs of the Kursk province" within the meaning is very close to "Kursk songs”, and at first Sviridov wanted to combine these products into one big cantata. But later, still left them as two separate works.
In this project participated general conductor of Moscow Academic Musical Theatre named after Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Felix Korobov, piano duet Irina Silivanova and Maxim Puryzhinsky, as well as percussists of Peter Glavatskih’s group. In the concert sound also the very song of Kursk region, which inspired the composer to create this music.
The concept of the concert "Stravinsky- Sviridov” - Folklore in the author's breaking of two such opposite composers like Stravinsky and G. Sviridov (for example, Stravinsky's " Russian cycles " and Sviridov ‘s " Kursky Songs " (to 45 years of writing). Their polar approach is due to folk art and ideological contradictions, and, accordingly, a difference of creative methods. Stravinsky, studied phonetics folk song, completely mastered its modal, melodic, rhythmic and structural patterns, improved its absolutely innovative style. Stravinsky almost never used folk themes in a clean form, reshaping them in your mind, and for Sviridov proximity to the source was fundamentally important. Stravinsky (1882-1971), the great Russian composer, innovative products which were like revolutionary theory of relativity in physics. His influence on music XX century is huge. His masterpieces include the core repertoire of singers from many countries. If Stravinsky was a kind of exotic folk aesthetics, then Sviridov - the foundation of people and soil.
So-called "Russian cycles" refer to Stravinsky’s" Russian period " -and, more specifically - the period of his work on" Les Noces ", also written in the original folk text. Naturally, the style of these works is quite close. This "Russian" line is associated with the transmission of ritual - an archaic, primordial. At this time, Stravinsky mastering not only the modal and melodic - the rhythmic features of Russian folklore, but its structural pattern. By studying the phonetics of Russian folk songs, game speech accents in singing, he uses a variable function of intonational stress as a specific feature of your own style. Interest in "child" category, too, is probably associated with Stravinsky's interest to archetype to archaic source , in this case - to the archetype of the child's psyche.
This 4-cycle on folk texts collected by Alexander Afanasyev (19century): "Podblyudnye Song" (1914 -1917) - 4 Russian Peasant Songs for a female vocal group, unaccompanied - named after the widely held in Russia the way the Christmas Divination - Divination on the rings; "The cat's cradle song" (1915-1916) (vocal suite for voice and three clarinets), dedicated to Russian artist Mikhail Larionov and Natalia Goncharova, "Jokes\Pribaoutki" (1914) - 4 comic songs for voice and chamber ensemble - devoted to his wife, "Four Russian Songs” (for voice and chamber ensemble) (1917-1954) by combining in different editions of the songs from the two cycles (four Russian songs for voice and piano, and "3 stories for children) songs (for soprano, flute, harp and guitar, based on “4 Russian songs” for voice and piano, and "3 stories for children”.