Atlantic Waves 08dec09: Russia

Skylark is a young and gifted folk group from Petrozavodsk, Karelia. They perform traditional music of Phenoscandia (Karelia, Finland, Sweden) and folk music of Celts (Ireland, Scotland, Breton). They use national instruments such as Jouhikko and Kantele.

The Moscow group Mervent (in translation from the Breton, “Mervent” means a wind from the southwest, and is a punning expression of their influences on the music that they play), which was formed in August 2000, with a nucleus of two members of Si Mhor – Igor Burmistrov (fiddle, guitar, lead vocals) and Anastasia Papisova (harp, vocals, dance).

The musicians of Mervent try to exploit to the full their very varied musical experience, and this comes across clearly in their sets. The rich diversity of stringed, wind and percussion instruments gives their sets a shimmering range of instrumentation which is fully exploited in the arrangements of tunes in their sets, and the Irish dance numbers performed by Anastasia (rated as one of the best performers of Irish dance in Moscow by Irish nationals visiting Russia) are a natural visual enhancement to their concerts. Mervent’s repertoire consists mainly of the music of European peoples, from Scandinavia and Ireland to the Balkans and Western Ukraine. There are also arrangements of Armenian melodies, and original compositions. […] Mervent does not perform reconstructions, but concentrates on playing contemporary folk music in a style strongly their own.

Ayarkhaan, the band of Jew’s-harp performers from the exotic Siberian land. Ayarkhaan was established in 2002 by khomus music promoter Albina Degtyareva. They are based in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the biggest Siberian region.

Reel is a Russian world music band, based in Russian folk and traditions. The idea of some kind of mutual integration of different musical cultures is in the basis of the first album titled “Strange People” (strannie ludi). Reel are: Olga Gajdamak (Vocals, violin), Alexander Leonov (Vocals, flute, iouhikko), Arcady Sokolov (Drums, background vocals), Sergey Sheljapin (Double bass) & Alexey Derevlyov (Guitars, background vocals).

Myllarit (The Millers) are a dynamic brisk vocal and instrumental folk band from Russian Karelia. The group came together in 1992, an outgrowth of the pairing of accordionist Zobnev – described as “a world-class accordionist” in Russian Life’s series titled “100 Young Russians to Watch”- with Alexander Bykadorov, who had traveled Europe together playing Karelian and Russian folk music in the streets.

The unique sound of Myllarit combines traditional music and poetry of Karelia, the White Sea, Olonets and Ladoga regions, and also Russian songs of the Trans-Onega region, with elements of rock, jazz and world music. Thus, fitting them to suit their more modern style. Besides, the group performs songs of the Ingria ( St. Petersburg region) in the local Ingric dialect of the Finnish language.

“Karelia represents a rich mixture of so many different cultures” said Zobnev. “Our rather severe climatic conditions help to hone this musical style. It is the music of the Russian pomors (White Sea coast natives) and Finnish and Karelian songs. It all mixes together and provides food for Myllarit.” Myllarit achieve their main impact on stage with great talent and humour. They are outstanding live performers.Their discography includes six albums.

Myllarit is also very active locally in their hometown Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Republic of Karelia, where they support and promote local bands through the Myllarit Center of Musical Initiatives and the organisation of musical events, such as the annual Petrozavodsk Folk Marathon.

These last years, they have taken part in many festivals like Koskis, Kaustinen, Haapavesi, Ugrijuhlat, Faces, Jutajaiset, Garage Fest, Folklandia, Kihaus, Hekajuhlat, Taiga Festival (Finland) Celtic Connections, Fringe Festival (Scotland) Finnish Music Festival, FinnGrandFest, Finlandia Festival, Duluht International Folk (USA),Watergate Festival (Estonia), Rockbridge, Carelian Faces, Folk Marathon, Festival of Modern Folk Music (Russia), Poborina Folk, Folkesi (Spain).

Raznotravije is a Russian folk band from Rybinsk, Russia.

Dobranotch is an international band consisting of musicians from Russia, Moldova and Lebanon, playing music inspired by traditions of these countries, using acoustic instruments, such as violin, accordion, cimbalom, tuba and percussion. An odd local folk band that blends Balkan folk, Klezmer music and Arab rhythms, Dobranotch is a far cry from the Irish-folk trio that it was when started out in the late 1990s. On its third album, “Gagarin Chochek”, released on ORANGE WORLD Records, the band documents its new style and lineup. “We mix Moldovan and Balkan elements with Jewish and Oriental ones,” said violinist Mitya Khramtsov, Dobranotch’s sole original member.

The musical blend comes from the mix of people in the band that now features Lebanese percussionist Ussama Shakhin, while the conservatory-educated accordion player Andrei Sapkevich comes from Moldova, where his father was a self-taught folk violinist, and played at Moldovan weddings. Khramtsov provides the Jewish musical influence in the band’s unique sound. “I was studying Klezmer from recordings and reading music, and from people I met on tours in Europe and even more at KlezFest [the annual local Klezmer festival and seminar] where musicians come from everywhere and mix with locals,” said Khramtsov, who is half-Jewish. “My family was not traditionally Jewish, though there was a certain atmosphere. I’ve always been interested in the Jewish culture, and even when we played Irish folk, we had one Jewish tune.” Zheka Lizin on cimbalom and Alexei Stepanov on tuba studied and performed Klezmer in an amateur band at the Jewish Community Center. “We try to learn from each other,” said Khramtsov.

Istoki-folk project is a result of cooperation of Podol folk ensemble Istoki and guitarist of Dmitriy Kvasov’s band Akusticheskie botinki. Everything began from the writing of phonogram for the performance of young members of Istoki ensemble on the city competition Yunue talantu. Then the compositions of ensemble and ethnic records of grannies from Archangel’skoe, Leluhino and Rusyatino (Tula district) village began to appear. Sidela Katushechka is made in Autumn of 2002. Guitar, bass and programmed drums and MIDI instruments: Kvasov Dmitriy. Record and composition: home studio of Dmitriy Kvasov. Vocal: female soloists of Istoki ensemble Larisa Gorchakova and Svetlana Palatkina (Record of 1995).

94 Atlantic Waves 08dec09