Tag: Russia

stringed instruments

The Gusli – A Great Stringed Instrument from Russia

The Gusli (-> Wikipedia) is an old Russian stringed instrument, a kind of a zither. The gusli is used in folk music, but can also be used for classical music.

The gusli is usually played with the right hand while the left hand mutes to strings that should not sound. This can be used for harp-like arpeggios. It is also possible that the left hand plays accompanying chords while the right hand plays the melody. The right hand can also play the strings with a tremolo.

My first example is a Lullaby played by Olga Shishkina, she has studied in Russia and lives in Helsinki today.

Gusli: Lullaby by Shakhanov

Performance at St. Maria’s Church in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Another professional player of the gusili is Pavel Lukoyanov

Pavel Lukoyanov professional gusli-musician. Pavel was born in 1982 in Moscow. In 2002 has finished the Second Moscow Regional Musical College named S.Prokofiev (professor, merited artist of Russia Fediration Lubov Zhuks class). In 2007 has finished the Gnesins Academy of Music folk instrument department now. (L. Zhuk’s class).

You can find many solo pieces for the gusli in his youtube channel. This is his performance of Legend for gusli:

Legend for gusli

von Aleksei Larin

Read more “The Gusli – A Great Stringed Instrument from Russia”

domra and classical guitar duo domra

Domra and Guitar Duo 9 String Theory – Piazzolla,…

I have recently discovered the domra and guitar duet 9 String Theory from Atlanta, USA. They have just gievn an interview to present their next concert. It is available on the website of WABE

9 String Theory is not just a catchy name but also a straightforward calculation. It’s a musical duo featuring Angelina Galashenkova on the domra, which has three strings, and John Huston on classical guitar, which has six strings.

domra and guitar duo
9 String Theory

Playlist 9 String Theory – Domra and Classical Guitar


  • Romanian Folk Dances (Bela Bartok)
  • Sonata (Nicolo Paganini)
  • Libertango, Cafe, Bordello 1900 (Astor Piazzolla)
  • Aria (Heitor Villa-Lobos)
  • Liebesfreud (G. Kreisler)
  • Czardasz
  • Sonata (Scarlatti)

Enjoy the Domra and Guitar Duo 9 String Theory!

Additional Information

“The highest open string on the guitar is the lowest note on the domra,” Huston said. “It lends itself as an expanded guitar or the guitar a very deep and harmonized domra.”

Galashenkova and Huston released a self-titled CD, which features tradition Russian folk songs, Manuel de Falla, George Gershwin, Béla Bartók and several pieces by Astor Piazzolla.



IZUMRUD – Great Band with Domra, Balalaika and Accordion…

The Group IZUMRUD from Ekaterinburg in Russia is one of the most progressive band playing Russian folk instruments like domra, balalaika or the accordion bayan today.

In 2012 the band played at the Picknick Jazz Festival in Tomsk. Several pieces played at this festival are available in a long youtube video that includes interviews (in Russian language) with the band members. The second part of this video shows the performance of the American singer Mary McBride who had been invited for several concerts in Russia in 2012.

The members of IZUMRUD  are:

  • Michail Sidorov – balalaika, artistic leader
  • Nadezhda Zhikhareva – domra
  • Svetlana Solovey – domra
  • Rinat Yakupov – accordion
  • Konstantin Prokoshin – counter-bass
  • Evgeni Khantchin – percussion
  • Edward Smolenskiy-sound engineer

группа ИЗУМРУД (IZUMRUD) г. Екатеринбург

izumRUd from Ekaterinburg – concert at the Picknick Jazz Festival in Tomsk.

The videos of the past years show the many faces of Izumrud. At the jazz festival they played a more powerful style, with heavy drums and an electric bass balalaika. The group has performed together with other rock- and jazz-bands. Together with the singer Veronika Bulycheva IZUMRUD has recorded the music for the documentary “Voyage de l’Oural à Paris”. For some performances actors or dancers have been integrated in the performance. But also the band members themselves are taking part in the dance performaces, especially for the encores.

In 2011 Izumrud played a concert in Spain. The complete concert has been filmed and is available at youtube (12 videos). I have included those videos into my playlist.

IZUMRUD in Spanien (2011)

The piece with the title “Western” reminds me of the famous song “House of the rising sun”.

A piece with a great dance performance:

Czardas byMonti

Another great performance – the Czardas by Monti played on the xylophone. At the end of the performance the percussionist plays the piece again with covered eyes and a covered xylophone.

A special program about the Prince Igor (probably based on the opera by Alexander Borodin) is available in the following video – even if you do not understand the story it’s interesting to watch the show:

группа Изумруд (group Izumrud) – Князь Игорь.mpg

Another of my favorite pieces is Deja Vu, performed with a group of dancers in the following video:

izumrud – дежа-вю – Deja Vu

Playlist Group izumRUd


Additional Information

Album Download (you can listen to the complete album): Veronika Bulycheva & the Izumrud ensemble – Voyage de l’Oural à Paris (SKMR-095)


Singer/Songwriter Mary McBride Tours Russia as Guest of U.S. Embassy: http://thehdi.org/cultural_diplomacy/mary_mcbride_2011.html

The following day, the group flew to Tomsk, one of the oldest towns in western Siberiam, watch the video. There, they headlined the Jazz Picnic Festival, located along the Tom River, and performed for an all-ages audience of more than 1,000 people, who were on their feet dancing on the bank of the river throughout McBride’s two-hour concert.

Press-Release by izumRUd:


In the past few years, the group has earned a reputation as one of Russia’s major musical innovators. “The world around us – is a music book, on the pages of which we’re writing the musical reality” – the group members say. All of them are fearless innovators, ready to embark on any adventure to find a new sound, and do not stop short of any musical conventions.

IZUMRUD group managed to do what seemed to be impossible – to change the general public’s perception of Russian folk instruments. Its music is an aesthetic blend of classic, ethnic, jazz, blues and art rock styles. The group’s repertoire includes both original songs as well as covers of masterpieces of world music of different epochs, styles and genres.
The popularity of the group is largely explained by the fact that their sophisticated and powerful arrangements of the different era’s musical hits give this music a fresh, contemporary sound. Being great fans of classical music, the IZUMRUD band performs it in a new way with its own interpretation, its unique view on it. The musicians are confident that classical music remains forever young. They reject to see it as something fixed in centuries. They are interested in a dialog with the composers of the past and their masterpieces. They discover what’s contemporary in them and close to their perception of the world.

The musicians performed solo programs in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Budapest, San Sebastian, and Genoa, and participated in various musical festivals around Europe. In 2006 IZUMRUD founded an International Festival of World Music “The Emerald City.” The Festival is held annually as a creative laboratory for musicians from all over the world. The group has created many fascinating joint projects during the Festival, including “The Emerald Blues” – with a student of Louis Armstrong Denise Perrier (US), “A Freezing Cowboy” – with a 7- time “Grammy” awardee, saxophonist Paul Winter (US), “Bon Jour” – a program with «Mezcal Jazz Unit” (France). Another highlight of the group’s career was their cooperation with the famous Russian rock band CHAIF that resulted in a joint album “The Emerald Hits”, as well as concerts in the Red Square & Olympic Hall in Moscow and at the October Concert Hall in St. Petersburg.

“…The IZUMRUD musicians create unique, original compositions with their unusual instruments. It was very interesting to work with them.” – Paul Winter

“I never expected to hear this amazing sound of American jazz performed on Russian folk instruments. I could not believe my ears…! » – Denis Perrier


Reinhold Glière – Great Sinfonic Music from Russia –…

Today I want to present the russion composer Reinhold Glière with some of his compositions played by Japanese mandolin orchestras.

Reinhold Glière was a Russian composer who was also the teacher of Sergej Prokofiew.

His sinfonic romantic music with influences from Russian folk music is obviously also very popular in Japan.

This is the Intermezzo that has been composed for double bass and piano. The Japanese Mandolin Ensemble 8strings plays this tune on the mandoloncello.

[8strings] Intermezzo / Gliere / FK

Intermezzo / Reinhold Gliere / arranged by FK
Mandolin Ensemble 8strings The 4th Concert (2010.11.14)

Another composition by Reinhold Glière is his ballet “The Bronze Horseman”. The Ensemble Amedeo Mandolin Orchestra played two pieces from this ballet with a big sinfonic mandolin orchestra:

バレエ音楽「青銅の騎士」より ワルツ / グリエール

Ballet “Bronze Horseman” Waltz / Gliere mehr

Reinhold Gliere “Walts” from “Bronze Horseman” by “Ensemble AMEDEO” Mandolin Orchestra The 26th Regular Concert Conductor : Toru Nakamura

Aus “The Bronze Horseman” – “Hymne an die große Stadt”

Ensemble AMEDEO Mandolin Orchestra
Bronze Horsemen

Playlist Reinhold Glière

Additional Information

Wikipedia about Reinhold Glière (German): http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Moritzewitsch_Gli%C3%A8re

Wikipedia about Reinhold Glière (Englisch): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Gli%C3%A8re

Sheetmusic by Reinhold Glière in the IMSLP library: http://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Gli%C3%A8re,_Reinhold

Free sheet music of the Prelude Op. 43 No.1 for guitar and many more free arrangements for guitar: http://mysite.verizon.net/vzevuty6/paulsfreeguitarscores/

Homepage Amedeo Mandolin Orchestra (Japanese): http://www.ne.jp/asahi/ensemble/amedeo/